Articles | Volume 8, issue 4/5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 8, 253–263, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-8-253-2001
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 8, 253–263, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-8-253-2001

  31 Oct 2001

31 Oct 2001

Gradient evolution for potential vorticity flows

S. Balasuriya S. Balasuriya
  • Dept. of Mathematics, Oberlin College, Oberlin OH 44074, USA

Abstract. Two-dimensional unsteady incompressible flows in which the potential vorticity (PV) plays a key role are examined in this study, through the development of the evolution equation for the PV gradient. For the case where the PV is conserved, precise statements concerning topology-conservation are presented. While establishing some intuitively well-known results (the numbers of eddies and saddles is conserved), other less obvious consequences (PV patches cannot be generated, some types of Lagrangian and Eulerian entities are equivalent) are obtained. This approach enables an improvement on an integrability result for PV conserving flows (if there were no PV patches at time zero, the flow would be integrable). The evolution of the PV gradient is also determined for the nonconservative case, and a plausible experiment for estimating eddy diffusivity is suggested. The theory is applied to an analytical diffusive Rossby wave example.