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Boussinesq and Anelastic Approximations Revisited: Potential Energy Release during Thermobaric Instability

Ingersoll, Andrew P. (2005) Boussinesq and Anelastic Approximations Revisited: Potential Energy Release during Thermobaric Instability. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 35 (8). pp. 1359-1369. ISSN 0022-3670. doi:10.1175/JPO2756.1.

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Expressions are derived for the potential energy of a fluid whose density depends on three variables: temperature, pressure, and salinity. The thermal expansion coefficient is a function of depth, and the application is to thermobaric convection in the oceans. Energy conservation, with conversion between kinetic and potential energies during adiabatic, inviscid motion, exists for the Boussinesq and anelastic approximations but not for all approximate systems of equations. In the Boussinesq/anelastic system, which is a linearization of the thermodynamic variables, the expressions for potential energy involve thermodynamic potentials for salinity and potential temperature. Thermobaric instability can occur with warm salty water either above or below cold freshwater. In both cases the fluid may be unstable to large perturbations even though it is stable to small perturbations. The energy per mass of this finite-amplitude instability varies as the square of the layer thickness. With a 4-K temperature difference and a 0.6-psu salinity difference across a layer that is 4000 m thick, the stored potential energy is 0.3 m^2 s^−2, which is comparable to the kinetic energy of the major ocean currents. This potential could be released as kinetic energy in a single large event. Thermobaric effects cause parcels moving adiabatically to follow different neutral trajectories. A cold fresh parcel that is less dense than a warm salty parcel near the surface may be more dense at depth. Examples are given in which two isopycnal trajectories cross at one place and differ in depth by 1000 m or more at another.

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Ingersoll, Andrew P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© American Meteorological Society 2005 (Manuscript received 4 November 2003, in final form 21 January 2005) I thank Jess Adkins, Paola Cessi, Mimi Gerstell, Claudia Pasquero, Tapio Schneider, and Karen Smith for useful comments and discussions. This research is part of an effort to model the internal dynamics of fluid planets and was supported by NASA’s planetary atmospheres program.
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Issue or Number:8
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3983
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:21 Jul 2006
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 20:13

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