Ocean Dynamics pp 137-157 | Cite as

Geostrophic and Quasi-Geostrophic Motions

  • Dirk Olbers
  • Jürgen Willebrand
  • Carsten Eden


In this chapter, further approximations to the primitive equations derived in Section 4.2.5 are considered, which are valid for situations characterized by a small Rossby number. Geostrophic balance is assumed to dominate for lateral scales comparable to the Rossby radius – leading to the quasi-geostrophic approximation – or on scales comparable to Earth’s radius – the planetary geostrophic approximation. The latter set of equations can be reformulated for an explicit expression for the absolute velocity.


Potential Vorticity Relative Vorticity Vertical Vorticity Geostrophic Balance Bernoulli Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity HamburgHamburgGermany

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