Potential Vorticity Hydraulics

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


To this point we have dwelt with applications in which the velocity of the current is comparable with the speed of long, internal gravity waves. This situation can arise in channels, along coastlines, in the lee of mountains, or in other special locations, but is less likely to occur in the relatively slow and broad general circulation of the ocean or atmosphere. Even the jet-like currents such as the Gulf Stream tend to be substantially subcritical with respect to long, gravest-mode, internal gravity waves. On the other hand, Rossby waves and other types of potential vorticity waves are important to the general circulation. As discussed in Section 2.1, these waves depend on lateral gradients of potential vorticity to provide a restoring mechanism. For the gradients that typically exist in geophysical applications, the waves are generally much slower than long gravity waves and can have wave speeds in the range of the current velocity.


Froude Number Potential Vorticity Drake Passage Upstream Flow High Potential Vorticity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physical Oceanography DepartmentWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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