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The Coherent Structures of Shallowwater Turbulence: Deformationradius Effects, Cyclone/Anticyclone Asymmetry and Gravitywave Generation

Polvani, Lorenzo M.; McWilliams, J. C.; Spall, M. A.; Ford, R.

Over a large range of Rossby and Froude numbers, we investigate the dynamics of initially balanced decaying turbulence in a shallow rotating fluid layer. As in the case of incompressible two‐dimensional decaying turbulence, coherent vortex structures spontaneously emerge from the initially random flow. However, owing to the presence of a free surface, a wealth of new phenomena appear in the shallow‐water system. The upscale energy cascade, common to strongly rotating flows, is arrested by the presence of a finite Rossby deformation radius. Moreover, in contrast to near‐geostrophic dynamics, a strong asymmetry is observed to develop as the Froude number is increased, leading to a clear dominance of anticyclonic vortices over cyclonic ones, even though no β effect is present in the system. Finally, we observe gravity waves to be generated around the vortex structures, and, in the strongest cases, they appear in the form of shocks. We briefly discuss the relevance of this study to the vortices observed in Jupiter’s atmosphere.


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Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science

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