This is a laboratory study to investigate the regime of turbulent geostrophic flow, which is relevant to the zonal flows being observed in Earth's oceans. A numerical simulation will be set up appropriate to the laboratory parameters. Much is known about the nature of the forcing, energy sources, and circulation in the ocean, providing a great background of information with which to assess laboratory and numerical results. The focus will be on the ocean circulation in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica where a multiple jet regime appears to exist. Frontal formation and transport in the geostrophic turbulence regime will be investigated in a laboratory setting. A unique, large rotating table facility exists at FSU dating from the early classic baroclinic wave experiments. This facility will be used to achieve the appropriate parameter ranges. Complementary numerical simulations of the laboratory experiment will also be carried out. The numerical simulation will help to understand the influence of topographic beta in the laboratory compared to the planetary beta in the ocean; it will also enable studies in more detail of the influence of the wind stress. Using the model the team will initiate tests of the parameterization of mass and heat transport in the multiple jet regime.

Broader Impact: The proposed study involves one undergraduate student funded separately, a research associate and one postdoctoral position. The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute at Florida State University is a multi-disciplinary facility that will provide access to experimental facilities to the broad community; this proposal helps to maintain this contribution. A close collaboration with Ruby Krishnamurti will help transfer knowledge from a long career in GFD experimentation and maintain this capability within the Institute. She will help advise a student and postdoc who will perform the experiments and data analysis on the proposed project.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Eric C. Itsweire
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Florida State University
United States
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