Baroclinic Instability of Bottom-Dwelling Currents

  • Mateusz K. Reszka
  • Gordon E. Swaters
Conference paper
Part of the Fluid Mechanics and Its Applications book series (FMIA, volume 61)


Density-driven benthic flows are important in the dynamics of marginal seas, river estuaries and other coastal regions (LeBlond et al., 1991; Price & O’Neil Baringer, 1994). They often occur along sloping continental shelves, flowing with shallower water on their right (in the northern hemisphere). Mesoscale gravity currents, which are to be discussed in this study, arise from a geostrophic balance between down-slope acceleration due to gravity and the Coriolis force, while their dynamics is characterized by lengthscales on the order of the Rossby deformation radius. There is mounting evidence that such flows are subject to instability, which may drastically alter the mean flow and culminate in a series of isolated plumes or eddies (Armi & D’Asaro, 1980; Houghton et al., 1982).


Continental Shelf Bottom Topography Anticyclonic Eddy Slope Bottom Baroclinic Instability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Armi, L. & D’Asaro, E. (1980) Flow structures of the benthic ocean. J. Geophys. Res. 85, 469–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruce, J. G. (1995) Eddies southwest of the Denmark Strait. Deep-Sea Research 42, 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Houghton, R. W., Schlitz, R, Beardsley, R C., Butman, B. & Chamberlin, J. L. (1982) The Middle Atlantic Bight Cold Pool: Evolution of the Temperature Structure During Summer 1979. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 12, 1019–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Jiang, L. & Garwood Jr., R. W. (1995) A numerical study of three-dimensional dense bottom plumes on a Southern Ocean continental slope. J. Geophys. Res. 100, 18,47118,488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Karsten, R. H., Swaters, G. E. & Thomson, R. E. (1995) Stability Characteristics of Deep-Water Replacement in the Strait of Georgia. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 25, 2391–2403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. LeBlond, P. H., Ma, H., Doherty, F. & Pond, S. (1991) Deep and Intermediate Water Replacement in the Strait of Georgia. Atmos. Ocean 29, 288–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Poulin, F. J. & Swaters, G. E. (1999) Sub-inertial dynamics of density-driven flows in a continuously stratified fluid on a sloping bottom. I. Model derivation and stability characteristics. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 455, 2281–2304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Price, J. F. & O’Neil Baringer, M. (1994) Outflows and deep water production by marginal seas. Prog. Oceanog. 33, 161–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Reszka, M. K. & Swaters, G. E. (2000) Baroclinic instability of benthic currents in a continuously stratified ocean. Submitted to Can. App. Math. Quart. Google Scholar
  10. Smith, P. C. (1975) A streamtube model for bottom boundary currents in the ocean. Deep-Sea Res. 22, 853–873.Google Scholar
  11. Stacey, J.W., Pond, S. & LeBlond, P. H. (1988) An objective analysis of the low-frequency currents in the Strait of Georgia. Atmos. Ocean 26, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Swaters, G. E. (1991) On the baroclinic instability of cold-core coupled density fronts on a sloping continental shelf. J. Fluid Mech. 224, 361–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Swaters, G. E. (1998) Numerical simulations of the baroclinic dynamics of density-driven coupled fronts and eddies on a sloping bottom. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 2945–2961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mateusz K. Reszka
    • 1
  • Gordon E. Swaters
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Mathematics Institute Department of Mathematical SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations