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Lateral boundary contributions to wave-activity invariants and nonlinear stability theorems for balanced dynamics

Ren, S. and Shepherd, T. G. (1997) Lateral boundary contributions to wave-activity invariants and nonlinear stability theorems for balanced dynamics. Journal Of Fluid Mechanics, 345. pp. 287-305. ISSN 0022-1120

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1017/S0022112097006216


The slow advective-timescale dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans is referred to as balanced dynamics. An extensive body of theory for disturbances to basic flows exists for the quasi-geostrophic (QG) model of balanced dynamics, based on wave-activity invariants and nonlinear stability theorems associated with exact symmetry-based conservation laws. In attempting to extend this theory to the semi-geostrophic (SG) model of balanced dynamics, Kushner & Shepherd discovered lateral boundary contributions to the SG wave-activity invariants which are not present in the QG theory, and which affect the stability theorems. However, because of technical difficulties associated with the SG model, the analysis of Kushner & Shepherd was not fully nonlinear. This paper examines the issue of lateral boundary contributions to wave-activity invariants for balanced dynamics in the context of Salmon's nearly geostrophic model of rotating shallow-water flow. Salmon's model has certain similarities with the SG model, but also has important differences that allow the present analysis to be carried to finite amplitude. In the process, the way in which constraints produce boundary contributions to wave-activity invariants, and additional conditions in the associated stability theorems, is clarified. It is shown that Salmon's model possesses two kinds of stability theorems: an analogue of Ripa's small-amplitude stability theorem for shallow-water flow, and a finite-amplitude analogue of Kushner & Shepherd's SG stability theorem in which the ‘subsonic’ condition of Ripa's theorem is replaced by a condition that the flow be cyclonic along lateral boundaries. As with the SG theorem, this last condition has a simple physical interpretation involving the coastal Kelvin waves that exist in both models. Salmon's model has recently emerged as an important prototype for constrained Hamiltonian balanced models. The extent to which the present analysis applies to this general class of models is discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:32862
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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