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A Numerical Investigation of a Two-Layer Frontal Geostrophic Model of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current

Abstract:

The numerical simulation of oceanic flow is a primary research tool for understand- ing the physical properties of the world ocean. These models range from complex, high-resolution models to simplified models in idealized domains. In the spirit of the latter, a two-layer frontal geostrophic model is discussed for a wind-driven circumpolar flow via an asymptotic reduction of the shallow-water equations. The model is implemented using the finite element method via the software package FEMLAB. The model is used to study the meridional balance, lower-layer outcropping, and parameter variation in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the dominant oceanic flow in the Southern Ocean. The effects of varying resolution and timestepping parameters is discussed. Experiments are performed in a number of domain and bottom topography regimes to examine the effects of the Drake Passage and a topographic ridge on the meridional balance and transport that prevails in the current. The results support a mechanism of balance by which momentum imparted by winds at the surface is transferred to the lower layer via eddies and dissipated by the ocean bottom.

Author: Ryan Lukeman

Advisors: Raymond J. Spiteri, Richard Karsten

Download: rlukeman_msc_thesis