- As part of a program to improve understanding of the dynamics of the complicated, vigorous eddy and jet flow fields recently observed over the continental shelf and slope, we investigate the potential of intermediate models for use in both process and data assimilation studies of these flows. Intermediate models incorporate physics simpler than that contained in the full primitive equations yet more complete than in the quasi-geostrophic equations, and are capable of representing subinertial flows over O(1) bottom topographic variations and/or with O(1) isopycnal slopes. In addition, intermediate models dynamically filter out high-frequency gravity- inertial motions leading, potentially, to higher computational efficiency and well-posed limited area forecast/hindcast models. Initial studies focus on single layer flows on an f-plane with a free surface, governed by the shallow-water equations. In Part I, various intermediate models are formulated and their accuracy assessed by comparing some exact nonlinear analytical solutions that exist for the shallow-water equations with corresponding analytical solutions of the intermediate models. Here in Part II, an extensive set of numerical finite-difference solutions to initial-value problems in doubly periodic domains (to isolate model differences from the influence of boundary condition implementation on solid walls) is used to determine the accuracy of various intermediate models by comparing their predictions with those of a shallow-water equation model that uses a potential enstrophy and energy conserving numerical scheme (SWE). Intermediate model results are also contrasted with those from a quasi-geostrophic (QG) model. The intermediate models considered are based on the geostrophic momentum (GM) approximation, the derivation of Salmon utilizing Hamilton's principle (HP), a geostrophic vorticity (GV) approximation, a combination of the quasi-geostrophic momentum and full continuity equations (IM), the linear balance equations (LBE), the balance equations (BE), the related balance-type (HBE, BEM, NBE) and modified linear balance equations (LQBE), and on Lynch's slow equations in their original form (SE) and in a modified form (MSE). In addition, a semi-implicit version (SEMI) of the shallow-water equations, which numerically filters high-frequency motions, is included in the study. The basic initial-value problem used to test the various intermediate models involves sinusoidal flow over a symmetric Gaussian-shaped bottom topographic feature. Comparisons are made for a range of the relevant dimensionless model parameters including the strength of the flow (as measured by the Rossby number), the square of the ratio of a characteristic horizontal length scale to the Rossby radius of deformation, and the height of the topographic feature. A second initial-value problem involves the evolution of a rotating elliptical vortex over both flat and variable bottom topography. Results show that in cases with low local Rossby number flow, but with large topographic height, most of the intermediate models are substantially more accurate than QG. Even for flows with O(1) local Rossby numbers, some of the intermediate models continue to give excellent results. Specifically, BE, BEM and SEMI consistently do the best in the comparisons. Although the relative ordering of the remaining models is somewhat parameter-dependent, in general the next most accurate models are MSE and LQBE followed by HP and NBE. These are followed in quality by GV and GM while the remaining models, HBE, IM and LBE, perform least accurately for the range of parameters studied. Generally, intermediate models that have an integral invariant corresponding to conservation of potential enstrophy do better than those without, with the best results coming from models which have this property and a nonlinear balance equation.
- Barth, J. A., J. S. Allen, P. A. Newberger, 1990: On Intermediate Models for Barotropic Continental Shelf and Slope Flow Fields. Part II: Comparison of Numerical Model Solutions in Doubly Periodic Domains. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 20(7), 1044–1076.