Mechanics of thermohaline interleaving: beyond the empirical flux laws
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An analytical theory is developed which illustrates the dynamics of the spontaneous generation of thermohaline intrusions in the stratified ocean with density compensated lateral temperature and salinity gradients. Intrusions in the model are driven by the interaction with the initially homogeneous field of salt fingers, whose amplitude and spatial orientation is weakly modulated by the long wavelength perturbations introduced into the system. The asymptotic multiscale analysis makes it possible to identify intrusive instabilities resulting from the positive feedback of salt fingers on large-scale perturbations and analyse the resulting patterns. The novelty of the proposed analysis is related to our ability to avoid using empirical double-diffusive flux laws – an approach taken by earlier models. Instead, we base our analytical explorations directly on the governing (Navier–Stokes) equations of motion. The model predictions of the growth rates and preferred slopes of intrusions are in general agreement with the laboratory and field measurements.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022112011000061
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