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Monday 17 Nov 2014The dynamical influence of eddy fluxes

Dr James Maddison - University of Edinburgh

Harrison 103 15:00-16:00

The interpretation of eddy fluxes is often complicated by the need to consider the presence of rotational fluxes. Since only the divergence of eddy fluxes play a direct dynamical role, these rotational fluxes, which may be very large, are dynamically inactive. It is therefore natural to attempt to extract an underlying ``divergent'' component of the fluxes. Unfortunately it is well known that such a decomposition is non-unique, and is subject to a boundary condition choice.

Here the decomposition of eddy potential vorticity fluxes is considered. The residual-mean quasi-geostrophic equations are used to select a unique boundary condition for the decomposition, and it follows that the potential associated with the divergent eddy PV flux has a clear physical interpretation. Mathematically this decomposition can be further shown to satisfy a key optimality property, yielding the divergent eddy PV flux with smallest possible norm.

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