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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A finite element model of ocean circulation Bermejo-Bermejo, Rodolfo


Preliminary results of a two-layer quasi-geostrophic box model of a wind-driven ocean are presented. The new aspects of this work in relation with conventional eddy models are a finite element formulation of the quasi-geostrophic equations and the use of no-slip boundary condition on the horizontal solid boundaries. In contrast to eddy resolving models that utilize free-slip boundary conditions our results suggest that the obtention of ocean eddies with the no-slip constraints requires a more restricted range of parameters, in particular much lower horizontal eddy viscosity eddy coefficients AH and higher Froude numbers F₁ and F₂. We show explicitly that a given range of parameters, which is eddy generating when the free-slip boundary condition is used, leads to a quasi-laminar flow in both, upper and lower, layers. An analytical model to interpret the numerical results is put forth. It is an extension of an earlier model of Ierley and Young (1983) in that the relative vorticity terms are of primary importance for the dynamics. Thus, it is shown that the boundary layer dynamics is active in the interior of the second layer, and it can be concluded from our method that for given F₁ and F₂ such that the lower layer geostrophic contours are closed, to the existence of the western boundary layer will prevent the homogenization of the potential vorticity so long as AH is large enough to stabilize the northwestern undulations of the flow.

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