Balance in non-hydrostatic rotating shallow-water flows

M.R. Jalali, David Gerard Dritschel*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Unsteady nonlinear shallow-water flows typically emit inertia-gravity waves through a process called “spontaneous adjustment-emission.” This process has been studied extensively within the rotating shallow-water model, the simplest geophysical model having the required capability. Here, we consider what happens when the hydrostatic assumption underpinning the shallow-water model is dropped. This assumption is in fact not necessary for the derivation of a two-dimensional or single-layer flow model. All one needs is that the horizontal flow field be independent of height in the fluid layer. Then, vertical averaging yields a single-layer flow model with the full range of expected conservation laws, similar to the shallow-water model yet allowing for non-hydrostatic effects. These effects become important for horizontal scales comparable to or less than the depth of the fluid layer. In a rotating flow, such scales may be activated if the Rossby deformation length (the ratio of the characteristic gravity-wave speed to the Coriolis frequency) is comparable to the depth of the fluid layer. Then, the range of frequencies supporting inertia-gravity waves is compressed, and the group velocity of these waves is reduced. We find that this change in wave properties has the effect of strongly suppressing spontaneous adjustment-emission and trapping inertia-gravity waves near regions of relatively strong circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number086601
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
Early online date3 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021


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