The Hydraulics of Homogeneous Flow in a Rotating Channel

  • Larry J. Pratt
  • John A. Whitehead
Part of the Atmospheric And Oceanographic Sciences Library book series (ATSL, volume 36)


The original models of rotating, hydraulically driven currents were motivated by observations of deep overflows. The spillage of dense fluid over the sills of the Denmark Strait, the Faroe Bank Channel and other deep passages is suggestive of hydraulic control and one hope was that formulae used to estimate the volume outflow from a reservoir might be extended to these settings. To this end the whole volume of dense, overflowing fluid is treated as a single homogeneous layer with reduced gravity. In the Denmark Strait overflow example (Figures I.7 and I.8) this layer typically includes all fluid denser than σθ=27.9. The layer experiences strong, cross-channel variations in thickness and velocity, complications that can arise in engineering applications but are unavoidable where the earth’s rotation is important. Much of the development of the theory of rotating hydraulics consists of attempts to come to grips with this extra degree of freedom. We shall trace this development beginning with early models of rotating-channel flow and show that hydraulic control and many of the other features reviewed in the first chapter remain present in one form or another. A number of novel features will also arise, including boundary layers, flow reversals, and sidewall separation. In this presentation, we will use northern hemisphere flows as paradigms.


Potential Vorticity Volume Flux Left Wall Critical Flow Homogeneous Flow 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physical Oceanography DepartmentWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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