Nonlinear saturation of baroclinic instability: part III: bounds on the energy
Shepherd, T. G. (1993) Nonlinear saturation of baroclinic instability: part III: bounds on the energy. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 50 (16). pp. 2697-2709. ISSN 0022-4928
To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/1520-0469(1993)050<2697:NSOBIP>2.0.CO;2
Rigorous upper bounds are derived on the saturation amplitude of baroclinic instability in the two-layer model. The bounds apply to the eddy energy and are obtained by appealing to a finite amplitude conservation law for the disturbance pseudoenergy. These bounds are to be distinguished from those derived in Part I of this study, which employed a pseudomomentum conservation law and provided bounds on the eddy potential enstrophy. The bounds apply to conservative (inviscid, unforced) flow, as well as to forced-dissipative flow when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity. Bounds on the eddy energy are worked out for a general class of unstable westerly jets. In the special case of the Phillips model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial eddy amplitude, the bound states that the eddy energy cannot exceed ϵβ2/6F where ϵ = (U − Ucrit)/Ucrit is the relative supercriticality. This bound captures the essential dynamical scalings (i.e., the dependence on ϵ, β, and F) of the saturation amplitudes predicted by weakly nonlinear theory, as well as exhibiting remarkable quantitative agreement with those predictions, and is also consistent with heuristic baroclinic adjustment estimates.