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Isolated marginally stable geophysical vortices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2017

Álvaro Viúdez
Department of Physical Oceanography and Technology, Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC, Barcelona 08003, Spain
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Long-term marginal stability of a new family of isolated oceanic vortices is analysed. Sign reversal of the radial gradient of the potential vorticity anomaly, as implied by the isolation requirement, leads to vortex unsteadiness but does not break the coherence of the vortex, which remains marginally stable even for high absolute Rossby numbers $Ro\simeq 0.8$ . The marginally stable vortices are characterized by a zero amount of potential vorticity anomaly on every isopycnal. The marginally stable final state is an unsteady vortex whose inner one-signed potential vorticity anomaly experiences revolution, rotation, precession and nutation.

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Viúdez et al. supplementary movie 1

Time evolution of potential vorticity anomaly isosurfaces PVA=-0.2 (blue) and PVA=0.14 (grey). PVA contours at z=0, from PVA=0.01 to PVA=0.18, are included. The colour distribution corresponds to PVA at z=0.

Video 75 MB

Viúdez et al. supplementary movie 2

Time evolution of vertical velocity isosurfaces w=-0.001 (blue) and w=0.001 (red). The black contours and colour distribution corresponds to the PVA. The white lines join the vertical velocity centres at every depth.

Video 6 MB

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