Baroclinic Instability of Bottom-Dwelling Currents
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).
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