Normal-Mode Analysis of a Baroclinic Wave-Mean Oscillation Public Deposited

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  • The stability of a time-periodic baroclinic wave-mean oscillation in a high-dimensional two-layer quasigeostrophic spectral model is examined by computing a full set of time-dependent normal modes (Floquet vectors) for the oscillation. The model has 72 × 62 horizontal resolution and there are 8928 Floquet vectors in the complete set. The Floquet vectors fall into two classes that have direct physical interpretations: wave-dynamical (WD) modes and damped-advective (DA) modes. The WD modes (which include two neutral modes related to continuous symmetries of the underlying system) have large scales and can efficiently exchange energy and vorticity with the basic flow; thus, the dynamics of the WD modes reflects the dynamics of the wave-mean oscillation. These modes are analogous to the normal modes of steady parallel flow. On the other hand, the DA modes have fine scales and dynamics that reduce, to first order, to damped advection of the potential vorticity by the basic flow. While individual WD modes have immediate physical interpretations as discrete normal modes, the DA modes are best viewed, in sum, as a generalized solution to the damped advection problem. The asymptotic stability of the time-periodic basic flow is determined by a small number of discrete WD modes and, thus, the number of independent initial disturbances, which may destabilize the basic flow, is likewise small. Comparison of the Floquet exponent spectrum of the wave-mean oscillation to the Lyapunov exponent spectrum of a nearby aperiodic trajectory suggests that this result will still be obtained when the restriction to time periodicity is relaxed.
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  • Wolfe, Christopher L., Roger M. Samelson, 2006: Normal-Mode Analysis of a Baroclinic Wave-Mean Oscillation. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 63(11), 2795–2812.
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