A string function for describing the propagation of baroclinic anomalies in the ocean

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Tyler, Robert H., and Rolf Käse. "A String Function for Describing the Propagation of Baroclinic Anomalies in the Ocean", Journal of Physical Oceanography 31, 3 (2001): 765-776, doi: https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2001)031<0765:ASFFDT>2.0.CO;2


© Copyright 2001 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact permissions@ametsoc.org. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code §?107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. All AMS journals and monograph publications are registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (https://www.copyright.com). Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement, available on the AMS website (https://www.ametsoc.org/PUBSCopyrightPolicy).



The authors derive a string function that describes the propagation of large-scale, potentially large amplitude, baroclinic energy anomalies in a two-layer ocean with variable topography and rotation parameter. The generality of the two-layer results allows results for the 1-layer, 1.5-layer, inverted 1.5-layer, lens, and dome models to be produced as limiting-cases. The string function is a scalar field that acts as a streamfunction for the propagation velocity. In the linear case the string function is simply c²ₒ/f, where cₒ is the background baroclinic shallow water wave speed, and typically describes propagation poleward on the eastern boundaries, westward (with some topographic steering) over the middle ocean, and equatorward on the western boundaries. In the more general nonlinear case, the string function is locally distorted by the anomaly. In the fully nonlinear examples of a lens or dome, there is no rest or background string function; the string function is generated entirely by the disturbance and propagation is due to asymmetric distribution of the anomalous mass over the string function contours. It is shown that conventional beta/topographic propagation results (e.g., beta drift of eddies, the Nof speed of cold domes) can be obtained as limiting cases of the string function. The string function provides, however, more general propagation velocities that are also usually simpler to derive. The first baroclinic mode string function for the global oceans is calculated from hydrographic data. The westward propagation speeds in the ocean basins as derived from the meridional gradient of the string function are typically two to five times faster than those expected from standard theory and agree well with the propagation speeds observed for long baroclinic Rossby waves in the TOPEX/Poseidon data.