Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 66, Issue 10, pp 1353–1378 | Cite as

Gravity currents down canyons: effects of rotation

Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 7th International Workshop on Modeling the Ocean (IWMO) in Canberra, Australia 1-5 June 2015


The flow of dense water in a V-shaped laboratory-scale canyon is investigated by using a non-hydrostatic numerical ocean model with focus on the effects of rotation. By using a high-resolution model, a more detailed analysis of plumes investigated in the laboratory (Deep-Sea Res I 55:1021–1034 2008) for laminar flow is facilitated. The inflow rates are also increased to investigate plume structure for higher Reynolds numbers. With rotation, the plumes will lean to the side of the canyon, and there will be cross-canyon geostrophic currents and Ekman transports. In the present study, it is found that the cross-canyon velocities are approximately 5 % of the down-canyon velocities over the main body of the plume for the rotational case. With rotation, the flow of dense water through the body of the plume and into the plume head is reduced. The plume head becomes less developed, and the speed of advance of the head is reduced. Fluid parcels near the top of the plume will to a larger extent be left behind the faster flowing dense core of the plume in a rotating system. Near the top of the plume, the cross-canyon velocities change direction. Inside the plume, the cross-flow is up the side of the canyon, and above the interface to the ambient there is a compensating cross-flow down the side of the canyon. This means that parcels of fluid around the interface become separated. Parcels of fluid around the interface with small down-canyon velocity components and relative large cross-canyon components will follow a long helix-like path down the canyon. It is found that the entrainment coefficients often are larger in the rotational experiments than in corresponding experiments without rotation. The effects of rotation and higher inflow rates on the areal patterns of entrainment velocities are demonstrated. In particular, there are bands of higher entrainment velocities along the lateral edges of the plumes in the rotational cases.


Gravity currents Rotation Secondary circulation Entrainment Numerical simulations 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.UNI Computing, UNI ResearchBergenNorway

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