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Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 197–223 | Cite as

Large-Eddy Simulation of Coastal Upwelling Flow

  • Anqing Cui
  • Robert L. Street
Article

Abstract

Large-eddy simulations were carried out to study laboratory-scale realizations of coastal upwelling in an annular rotating tank with a sloping bottom. A two-layer stratified fluid was set into rigid body motion with the tank and then driven by the relative rotation of a solid top lid. The simulation code developed in this work was a three-dimensional incompressible Navier-Stokes solver using the message passing interface. The simulation runs were performed on a distributed memory massively parallel computer, namely, the IBM SP2. The simulation results were able to reveal the evolution of the complex upwelling structures in detail. The results were used to compare with and to complement two relevant series of coastal upwelling experiments. A Rayleigh-Taylor type of instability took place in the top inversion layer due to the unstable stratification after establishment of the upwelling front. The primary upwelling front was unstable to azimuthal perturbations and developed large amplitude baroclinic waves. The frontal wave structure consists of cyclone/anticyclone pairs. Whether cyclonic eddies containing the lower-layer fluid pinch off from the front depends on the θ* value. The non-dimensional parameter θ*=gh0/u*fλs, which was first introduced by Narimousa and Maxworthy, combines the effects of stratification, rotation and surface stress and can be used to characterize the upwelling flow field. Our studies show that the frontal instabilities are much more intense and the upwelling front itself displays strong unsteadiness and cyclonic eddies containing the lower-layer fluid pinch off from the front when θ* is significantly less than 5.8. For θ*=5.8, the frontal instabilities are less intense and no pinched-off process is observed. To separate these regimes, a critical value of θ* of about 5.4 is consistent with Narimousa and Maxworthy's results.

coastal upwelling Coriolis force instability large-eddy simulation parallel computing 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Fluid Mechanics LaboratoryStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Applied Materials Inc.SunnyvaleU.S.A.

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