On the asymptotic regimes and the strongly stratified limit of rotating boussinesq equations

A. Babin, Alex Mahalov, B. Nicolaenko, Y. Zhou

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59 Scopus citations


Asymptotic regimes of geophysical dynamics are described for different Burger number limits. Rotating Boussinesq equations are analyzed in the asymptotic limit of strong stratification in the Burger number of order one situation as well as in the asymptotic regime of strong stratification and weak rotation. It is shown that in both regimes the horizontally averaged buoyancy variable is an adiabatic invariant (approximate conservation law) for the full Boussinesq system. Spectral phase shift corrections to the buoyancy time scale associated with vertical shearing of this invariant are deduced. Statistical dephasing effects induced by turbulent processes on inertial-gravity waves are evidenced. The "split" of the energy transfer of the vortical and the wave components is established in the Craya-Herring cyclic basis. As the Burger number increases from zero to infinity, we demonstrate gradual unfreezing of energy cascades for ageostrophic dynamics. This property is related to the nonlinear geostrophic adjustment mechanism which is the capacity of ageostrophic dynamics to transfer energy to small scales. The energy spectrum and the anisotropic spectral eddy viscosity are deduced with an explicit dependence on the anisotropic rotation/stratification time scale which depends on the vertical aspect ratio parameter. Intermediate asymptotic regime corresponding to strong stratification and weak rotation is analyzed where the effects of weak rotation are accounted for by an asymptotic expansion with full control (saturation) of vertical shearing. The regularizing effect of weak rotation differs from regularizations based on vertical viscosity. Two scalar prognostic equations for ageostrophic components (divergent velocity potential and geostrophic departure) are obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-251
Number of pages29
JournalTheoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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