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Baroclinic Instability in the Presence of Convection

Callies, Jörn and Ferrari, Raffaele (2018) Baroclinic Instability in the Presence of Convection. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 48 (1). pp. 45-60. ISSN 0022-3670. doi:10.1175/JPO-D-17-0028.1.

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Baroclinic mixed-layer instabilities have recently been recognized as an important source of submesoscale energy in deep winter mixed layers. While the focus has so far been on the balanced dynamics of these instabilities, they occur in and depend on an environment shaped by atmospherically forced small-scale turbulence. In this study, idealized numerical simulations are presented that allow the development of both baroclinic instability and convective small-scale turbulence, with simple control over the relative strength. If the convection is only weakly forced, baroclinic instability restratifies the layer and shuts off convection, as expected. With increased forcing, however, it is found that baroclinic instabilities are remarkably resilient to the presence of convection. Even if the instability is too weak to restratify the layer and shut off convection, the instability still grows in the convecting environment and generates baroclinic eddies and fronts. This suggests that despite the vigorous atmospherically forced small-scale turbulence in winter mixed layers, baroclinic instabilities can persistently grow, generate balanced submesoscale turbulence, and modify the bulk properties of the upper ocean.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Callies, Jörn0000-0002-6815-1230
Ferrari, Raffaele0000-0003-1895-4294
Additional Information:© 2018 American Meteorological Society. (Manuscript received 1 March 2017, in final form 27 September 2017, Published online 3 January 2018). This article is included in the LatMix: Studies of Submesoscale Stirring and Mixing Special Collection. Jean-Michel Campin is thanked for assistance in implementing the MITgcm modifications necessary to prescribe a background flow. Support from the National Science Foundation under Grant OCE-1233832 is gratefully acknowledged.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Baroclinic flows; Convection; Ocean dynamics; Oceanic mixed layer
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180112-100116533
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Official Citation:Callies, J. and R. Ferrari, 2018: Baroclinic Instability in the Presence of Convection. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 48, 45–60,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84298
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:12 Jan 2018 19:21
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:18

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