Publication Date:
2018-04-12

Description:
For the first time, an analytical theory and a very high-resolution, frontal numerical model, both based on the unsteady, nonlinear, reduced-gravity shallow water equations on a beta plane, have been used to investigate aspects of the migration of homogeneous surface, frontal warm-core eddies on a beta plane. Under the assumption that, initially, such vortices are surface circular anticyclones of paraboloidal shape and having both radial and azimuthal velocities that are linearly dependent on the radial coordinate (i.e., circular pulsons of the first order), approximate analytical expressions are found that describe the nonstationary trajectories of their centers of mass for an initial stage as well as for a mature stage of their westward migration. In particular, near-inertial oscillations are evident in the initial migration stage, whose amplitude linearly increases with time, as a result of the unbalanced vortex initial state on a beta plane. Such an initial amplification of the vortex oscillations is actually found in the first stage of the evolution of warm-core frontal eddies simulated numerically by means of a frontal numerical model initialized using the shape and velocity fields of circular pulsons of the first order. In the numerical simulations, this stage is followed by an adjusted, complex nonstationary state characterized by a noticeable asymmetry in the meridional component of the vortex's horizontal pressure gradient, which develops to compensate for the variations of the Coriolis parameter with latitude. Accordingly, the location of the simulated vortex's maximum depth is always found poleward of the location of the simulated vortex's center of mass. Moreover, during the adjusted stage, near-inertial oscillations emerge that largely deviate from the exactly inertial ones characterizing analytical circular pulsons: a superinertial and a subinertial oscillation in fact appear, and their frequency difference is found to be an increasing function of latitude. A comparison between vortex westward drifts simulated numerically at different latitudes for different vortex radii and pulsation strengths and the corresponding drifts obtained using existing formulas shows that, initially, the simulated vortex drifts correspond to the fastest predicted ones in many realistic cases. As time elapses, however, the development of a beta-adjusted vortex structure, together with the effects of numerical dissipation, tend to slow down the simulated vortex drift.

Type:
Article
,
PeerReviewed

Format:
text

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