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Centrifugal instability (CI) has been suggested by recent numerical studies to be a boundary mechanism promoting mixing. As opposed to Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, however, little is known about its detailed energetics. The goal of this study is to address this issue. Through the use of MITgcm, a two-dimensional meridional jet with regions of negative PV simulating California Undercurrent (CUC) was studied dynamically and energetically. We observe that the system is dominated by CI and the mixing efficiency is relatively high compared to classic Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. Also, with short time scales of instability, CI is able to generate gravity wave effectively. Estimates of regional and global impact of CI are performed, suggesting while its global impact is limited, it can contribute importantly to the local mixing climatology.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
William Dewar, Professor Directing Thesis; Allan Clarke, Committee Member; Eric Chassignet, Committee Member; Robert Hart, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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