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The effects of surfacewind stress and buoyancy flux on the evolution of a front in a turbulent thermal wind balance

Crowe, MN; Taylor, JR; (2020) The effects of surfacewind stress and buoyancy flux on the evolution of a front in a turbulent thermal wind balance. Fluids , 5 (2) , Article 87. 10.3390/fluids5020087. Green open access

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Abstract

Here we consider the effects of surface buoyancy flux and wind stress on a front in turbulent thermal wind (TTW) balance using the framework of Crowe and Taylor (2018). The changes in the velocity and density profiles induced by the wind stress and buoyancy flux interact with the TTW and can qualitatively change the evolution of the front. In the absence of surface-forcing, Crowe and Taylor (2018) found that shear dispersion associated with the TTW circulation causes the frontal width to increase. In many cases, the flow induced by the surface-forcing enhances the spreading rate. However, if the wind stress drives a cross-front flow which opposes the frontal buoyancy gradient or the buoyancy flux drives an unstable stratification, it is possible to obtain an up-gradient cross-front buoyancy flux, which can act to sharpen the front. In certain conditions, an equilibrium state develops where the tendency for the TTW circulation to spread the front is balanced by the frontogenetic tendency of the surface forces. We use numerical solutions to a nonlinear diffusion equation in order to test these predictions. Finally, we describe the connection between surface-forcing and vertical mixing and discuss typical parameters for mid-ocean fronts.

Type: Article
Title: The effects of surfacewind stress and buoyancy flux on the evolution of a front in a turbulent thermal wind balance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/fluids5020087
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids5020087
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: submesocale; fronts; mixing
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Mathematics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106403
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