Rossby waves and zonons in zonostrophic turbulence (2012)

First Author: Sukoriansky S
Attributed to:  Network: Wave-flow interactions funded by EPSRC


Two-dimensional, small-scale forced turbulent flows on the surface of a rotating sphere, along with the familiar Rossby-Haurwitz waves, reveal a new class of waves termed zonons. The zonons form non-dispersive wave packets that propagate in the westward direction with the velocity equal to the phase speed of the most energetic Rossby-Haurwitz wave. Zonons preserve their identity even after the forcing is switched off and the flow undergoes structural reorganization. Zonons reside in locations with the maximum meridional shear and are engaged in strong energy exchange with the mean flow. These physical properties of zonons point to their identity with Rossby solitary waves. The symbiosis between the mean flow and the solitary waves plays an important role in the large-scale dynamics.

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Type: Conference/Paper/Proceeding/Abstract