Strong interaction between two co-rotating vortices in rotating and stratified flows.
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In this study we investigate the interactions between two co-rotating vortices. These vortices are subject to rapid rotation and stable stratification such as are found in planetary atmospheres and oceans. By conducting a large number of simulations of vortex interactions, we intend to provide an overview of the interactions that could occur in geophysical turbulence. We consider a wide parameter space covering the vortices height-to-width aspect-ratios, their volume ratios and the vertical offset between them. The vortices are initially separated in the horizontal so that they reside at an estimated margin of stability. The vortices are then allowed to evolve for a period of approximately 20 vortex revolutions. We find that the most commonly observed interaction under the quasi-geostrophic (QG) regime is partial-merger, where only part of the smaller vortex is incorporated into the larger, stronger vortex. On the other hand, a large number of filamentary and small scale structures are generated during the interaction. We find that, despite the proliferation of small-scale structures, the self-induced vortex energy exhibits a mean `inverse-cascade' to larger scale structures. Interestingly we observe a range of intermediate-scale structures that are preferentially sheared out during the interactions, leaving two vortex populations, one of large-scale vortices and one of small-scale vortices. We take a subset of the parameter space used for the QG study and perform simulations using a non-hydrostatic model. This system, free of the layer-wise two-dimensional constraints and geostrophic balance of the QG model, allows for the generation of inertia-gravity waves and ageostrophic advection. The study of the interactions between two co-rotating, non-hydrostatic vortices is performed over four different Rossby numbers, two positive and two negative, allowing for the comparison of cyclonic and anti-cyclonic interactions. It is found that a greater amount of wave-like activity is generated during the interactions in anticyclonic situations. We also see distinct qualitative differences between the interactions for cyclonic and anti-cyclonic regimes.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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