Piecewise uniform potential vorticity pancake shielded vortices

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Shielded vortices consist of a core of potential vorticity of a given sign surrounded (or shielded) by a layer of opposite-signed potential vorticity. Such vortices have specific properties and have been the focus of numerous studies, first in two dimensional geometries (where potential vorticity is just the vertical component of the vorticity vector) and in geophysical applications (mostly in layered models). The present paper focuses on three-dimensional, spheroidal shielded vortices. In particular, we focus on vortical structures whose overall volume-integrated potential vorticity is zero. We restrict attention to vortices of piecewise uniform potential vorticity in the present research. We first revisit the problem within the quasi-geostrophic model, then we extend the results to the non-hydrostatic regime. We show that the stability of the structure depends on the ratio of potential vorticity between the inner core and the outer shield. In particular it depends on the polarity of the core and of the wavenumber of the azimuthal mode perturbed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-64
Number of pages33
JournalGeophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Vortex dynamics
  • Vortex equilibria
  • Vortex stability


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