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Free Content Eigenanalysis of the two-dimensional wind-driven ocean circulation problem

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A barotropic model of the wind-driven circulation in the subtropical region of the ocean is considered. A no-slip condition is specified at the coasts and slip at the fluid boundaries. Solutions are governed by two parameters: inertial boundary-layer width; and viscous boundary-layer width. Numerical computations indicate the existence of a wedge-shaped region in this two-dimensional parameter space, where three steady solutions coexist. The structure of the steady solution can be of three types: boundary-layer, recirculation and basin-filling-gyre. Compared to the case with slip conditions (Ierley and Sheremet, 1995) in the no-slip case the wedge-shaped region is displaced to higher Reynolds numbers.

Linear stability analysis of solutions reveals several classes of perturbations: basin modes of Rossby waves, modes associated with the recirculation gyre, wall-trapped modes and a “resonant” mode. For a standard subtropical gyre wind forcing, as the Reynolds number increases, the wall-trapped mode is the first one destabilized. The resonant mode associated with disturbances on the southern side of the recirculation gyre is amplified only at larger Reynolds number, nonetheless this mode ultimately provides a stronger coupling between the mean circulation and Rossby basin modes than do the wall-trapped modes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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