Geophysical Fluid Dynamics


Geophysical fluid dynamics refers to the study of large scale flows in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, as well as other plants. Two features that distinguish many geophysical flows is the strong constraints placed on the fluid motions due to rotation and stratification. Earth’s rotation gives rise to the Coriolis effect, the apparent deflection of moving objects when the motion is described relative to a rotation reference frame. The relative rate of rotation changes with latitude due to the spherical shape of planetary bodies, a feature that gives rise to Earth’s jet stream and the zonal jets apparent in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Stratification refers to the layering of different water masses in the ocean with dense fluids on the bottom and lighter fluids at the top. At large scales, both rotation and stratification compel motions to be largely two dimensional in the horizontal plane, but at smaller scales, these constraints break down and smaller-scale turbulence may occur. Our group studies the transition between these regimes as well as the impact of coherent structures (mesoscale eddies, atmospheric storms, zonal jets) on tracer transport and larger-scale circulation patterns.

Related Publications:

Chen, R., A.F. Thompson & G. Flierl, 2016. Time-dependent eddy-mean energy diagrams and their application to the ocean. submitted to J. Phys. Oceanogr.

Ruan, X. & A.F. Thompson, 2016. Bottom boundary potential vorticity injection from an oscillating flow: a PV pump. in revision  to J. Phys. Oceanogr.

Su, Z., A.P. Ingersoll, A.L. Stewart & A.F. Thompson, 2016. Ocean convective available potential energy. Part II: Energetics of thermobaric convection. in revision, J. Phys. Oceanogr.

Su, Z., A.P. Ingersoll, A.L. Stewart & A.F. Thompson, 2016. Ocean convective available potential energy. Part I: Concept and calculation. J. Phys. Oceanogr., in press.

Stewart, A.L. & A.F. Thompson, 2015. The neutral density temporal residual mean overturning ciculation. Oc. Model., 90, 44-56.

Boland, E.D.J., A.F. Thompson, P.H. Haynes & E. Shuckburgh, 2012. The formation of non-zonal jets over sloped topography. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 42, 1635-1651.

Thompson, A.F., 2010. Jet formation and evolution in baroclinic turbulence with simple topography. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 40, 257-278. 

Thompson, A.F. & W.R. Young, 2007. Baroclinic eddy heat fluxes: zonal flows and energy balance. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 64, 3214-3231. [PDF]

Thompson, A.F. & W.R. Young, 2006. Scaling baroclinic eddy fluxes: vortices and the energy balance. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 36, 720-738. [PDF]

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