Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 48 (2018): 2209-2219, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-18-0070.1.
Published observations of subinertial ocean current variability show that the vertical structure is often well described by a vertical mode that has a node of horizontal velocity at the bottom rather than the traditional node of vertical velocity. The theory of forced and free linear Rossby waves in a continuously stratified ocean with a sloping bottom and bottom friction is treated here to see if frictional effects can plausibly contribute to this phenomenon. For parameter values representative of the mesoscale, bottom dissipation by itself appears to be too weak to be an explanation, although caution is required because the present approach uses a linear model to address a nonlinear phenomenon. One novel outcome is the emergence of a short-wave, bottom-trapped, strongly damped mode that is present even with a flat bottom.
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