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AND OCEANIC
FLUID DYNAMICS
Supplementary Material for 2nd Edition
Geoﬀrey K. Vallis
ii
Contents
Preface vii
Part I GEOPHYSICAL FLUID DYNAMICS 1
1 Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves 3
1.1 Wave Fundamentals 4
1.1.1 Deﬁnitions and kinematics 4
1.1.2 Wave propagation and phase speed 5
1.1.3 The dispersion relation 6
1.2 Group Velocity 7
1.2.1 Superposition of two waves 9
1.2.2
Superposition of many waves 10
1.2.3
The method of stationary phase 12
1.3 Ray Theory 13
1.3.1 Ray theory in practice 15
1.4 Rossby Waves 16
1.4.1 Waves in a single layer 16
1.4.2 The mechanism of Rossby waves 18
1.4.3 Rossby waves in two layers 19
1.5 * Rossby Waves in Stratiﬁed QuasiGeostrophic Flow 21
1.5.1 Setting up the problem 21
1.5.2 Wave motion 22
1.6 Energy Flux of Rossby Waves 23
1.6.1
Rossby wave reﬂection 26
1.7 Rossbygravity Waves: an Introduction 31
iii
iv Contents
1.7.1 Wave properties 34
1.7.2 Planetary geostrophic Rossby waves 36
1.8
The Group Velocity Property 38
1.8.1 Group velocity in homogeneous media 38
1.8.2
Group velocity property: a general derivation 39
1.8.3 Group velocity property for Rossby waves 41
4 Gravity Waves 55
4.1 Surface gravity waves 56
4.1.1 Boundary conditions 56
4.1.2 Wave solutions 57
4.1.3 Properties of the solution 58
4.2 Internal Gravity waves in a NonRotating Boussinesq ﬂuid 62
4.3 Energetics of Poincaré Waves 64
4.3.1 Onedimensional problem 64
4.3.2 Twodimensional Poincaré waves 66
4.4 Waves on Fluid Interfaces 67
4.4.1 Equations of motion 68
4.4.2 Dispersion relation 69
4.5 Internal waves in a Continuously Stratiﬁed Boussinesq ﬂuid 70
4.6 Properties of Internal Waves 72
4.6.1 A few interesting properties 72
4.6.2 Group velocity and phase speed 74
4.6.3 Energetics of internal waves 76
4.7 Internal Wave Reﬂection 78
4.7.1 Properties of internal wave reﬂection 79
4.8 Internal Waves in a Fluid with Varying Stratiﬁcation 81
4.8.1 An alternative derivation 83
4.8.2 An atmospheric case 84
4.8.3 An atmospheric waveguide 84
4.9 Internal Waves in a Rotating Frame 85
4.9.1 Equations of motion 85
4.9.2 Dispersion Relation 86
4.9.3 Polarization relations 88
4.9.4 Geostrophic motion and vortical modes 88
4.10 Generation of Internal Waves 91
4.10.1 The problem and its solution 91
4.10.2 Energy Propagation 92
4.10.3 Lee waves and ﬂow over topography 94
4.10.4 Gravity waves in the atmosphere 94
4.11
AcousticGravity Waves in an Ideal Gas 94
4.11.1 Interpretation 95
4.12 The Moving Flame Eﬀect 98
4.13 Breaking of Internal Waves 98
4.13.1 Relation to diapycnal diﬀusivity 98
4.13.2 The GarrettMunk spectrum 98
Contents v
References 101
vi CONTENTS
Preface
September 27, 2012
This is some additional material related to the book Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid
Dynamics (AOFD). Eventually the material will be incorporated into a second edition of
that book, but that is a couple of years away.
The major items to be added may include:
(i) The material on waves will be consolidated, and most of it will be moved out of Part
I into Part II. Part II will begin with a chapter on wave basics and Rossby waves.
(ii) A chapter on gravity waves including some material on their importance to the
general circulation.
(iii) A chapter on linear dynamics at low latitudes (equatorial waves and the Matsuno–
Gill problem).
(iv) A chapter on the tropical atmosphere, if it can be made coherent.
(v) A chapter on the equatorial ocean and El Niño (probably two chapters in total, one
being the chapter already posted above).
(vi) Up to a chapter on stratospheric dynamics.
(vii) Tentatively, a chapter on dynamical regimes of planetary atmospheres. This might
have to wait until a third edition.
Some of these items are present in this document. Others remain to be started. A number
of corrections will be made throughout the existing book, and some other sections will
be shortened, clariﬁed or omitted.
In general I will post new items to the web when there is something reasonably
substantial to be read, typically half a chapter or so of new material. The material will
ﬁrst be posted when it is readable, but before it is complete or ﬁnalized. (There is no point
in asking for comments on material that is ﬁnished.) I would appreciate any comments
you, the reader, may have whether major or minor. Suggestions are also welcome on
vii
viii Preface
material to include or omit. There is no need, however, to comment on typos in the text
— these will be cleaned up in the ﬁnal version. However, please do point out typos in
equations and, perhaps even more importantly, thinkos, which are sort of typos in the
brain.
Student Edition
As the second edition of the book will perforce be rather long (perhaps close to 1000
pages), it may not be appropriate for graduate students who do not plan a career in
dynamics. Thus, the publisher (CUP) and I are considering a shorter ‘student edition’,
which would have the advanced or more arcane material omitted and some of the expla
nations simpliﬁed. The resulting would likely be about 500 pages. Please let me know if
you have any comments on this.
Problem Sets
One omission in the ﬁrst edition is numericallyoriented problems that graphically illus
trate some phenomena using Matlab or Python or similar. If you have any such problems
or would like to develop some that could be linked to this book, please let me know. Ad
ditional problems of a conventional nature would also be welcome. Again, please contact
me.
Thank you!
Geoff Vallis
gkv@princeton.edu
Part I
GEOPHYSICAL FLUID DYNAMICS
1
Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.
The Beach Boys
CHAPTER
ONE
Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
In this chapter we provide an introduction to wave motion and a description of perhaps
the most important kind of wave motion occurring at large scales in the ocean and at
mosphere, namely Rossby waves.
1
The chapter has three main parts to it. In the ﬁrst,
we provide a brief discussion of wave kinematics and dynamics, introducing such basic
concepts as phase speed and group velocity. The second part, beginning with section
3.4, is a discussion of the dynamics of Rossby waves; this may be considered to be the
natural followon from the previous chapter. Finally, in section 3.8, we return to group
velocity in a somewhat more general way. Wave kinematics is a somewhat formal topic,
yet closely tied to wave dynamics: kinematics without a dynamical example is jejune and
dry, yet understanding wave dynamics of any sort is hardly possible without appreciating
at least some of the formal structure of waves. Readers should ﬂip pages back and forth
as necessary.
Those readers who already have a knowledge of wave motion, or those who wish to
cut to the chase quickly, may wish to skip the ﬁrst few sections and begin at section 3.4.
Other readers may wish to skip the sections on Rossby waves altogether and, after ab
sorbing the sections on the wave theory move on to chapter 4 on gravity waves, returning
to Rossby waves (or not) later on. The Rossby wave and gravity wave discussions are
largely independent of each other, although they both require that the reader is familiar
with the basic ideas of wave analysis such as group velocity and phase speed. Close to
the equator Rossby waves and gravity waves become more intertwined and we deal with
the ensuing waves in chapter ??.
3
4 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
1.1 FUNDAMENTALS AND FORMALITIES
1.1.1 Deﬁnitions and kinematics
What is a wave? Rather like turbulence, a wave is more easily recognized than deﬁned.
Perhaps a little loosely, a wave may be considered to be a propagating disturbance that
has a characteristic relationship between its frequency and size; more formally, a wave
is a disturbance that satisﬁes a dispersion relation. In order to see what this means,
and what a dispersion relation is, suppose that disturbance, ψ(x, t) (where ψ might be
velocity, streamfunction, pressure, etc), satisﬁes some equation
L(ψ) = 0, (1.1)
where L is a linear operator, typically a polynomial in time and space derivatives; an
example is L(ψ) = ∂∇
2
ψ/∂t +β∂ψ/∂x. We will mainly deal with linear waves for which
the operator L is linear. Nonlinear waves certainly exist, but the curious reader must look
elsewhere to learn about them.
2
If (3.1) has constant coefﬁcients (if β is constant in this
example) then solutions may often be found as a superposition of plane waves, each of
which satisfy
ψ = Re ` ψe
iθ(x,t)
= Re ` ψe
i(k·x−ωt)
. (1.2)
where ` ψ is a constant, θ is the phase, k is the vector wavenumber (k, l, m), and ω is the
wave frequency. We also often write the wave vector as k = (k
x
, k
y
, k
z
).
Earlier, we said that waves are characterized by having a particular relationship be
tween the frequency and wavevector known as the dispersion relation. This is an equation
of the form
ω= Ω(k) (1.3)
where Ω(k) [meaning Ω(k, l, m)] is some function determined by the form of L and so
depends on the particular type of wave — the function is different for sound waves, light
waves and the Rossby waves and gravity waves we will encounter in this book (peak
ahead to (3.56) are (4.42), and there is more discussion in section 3.1.3). Unless it is
necessary to explicitly distinguish the function Ω from the frequency ω, we will often
write ω= ω(k).
If the medium in which the waves are propagating is inhomogeneous, then (3.1)
will probably not have constant coefﬁcients (for example, β may vary meridionally).
Nevertheless, if the medium is slowly varying, wave solutions may often still be found —
although we do not prove it here — with the general form
ψ = Rea(x, t) e
iθ(x,t)
, (1.4)
where a(x, t) varies slowly compared to the variation of the phase, θ. The frequency and
wavenumber are then deﬁned by
k ≡ ∇θ, ω≡ −
∂θ
∂t
, (1.5)
which in turn implies the formal relation between k and ω:
∂k
∂t
+∇ω= 0. (1.6)
1.1 Fundamentals and Formalities 5
1.1.2 Wave propagation and phase speed
An almost universal property of waves is that they propagate through space with some
velocity (which might be zero). Waves in ﬂuids may carry energy and momentum but
not normally, at least to a ﬁrst approximation, ﬂuid parcels themselves. Further, it turns
out that the speed at which properties like energy are transported (the group speed) may
be different from the speed at which the wave crests themselves move (the phase speed).
Let’s try to understand this beginning with the phase speed.
Phase speed
Let us consider the propagation of monochromatic plane waves, for that is all that is
needed to introduce the phase speed. Given (3.2) a wave will propagate in the direction
of k (Fig. 3.1). At a given instant and location we can align our coordinate axis along
this direction, and we write k · x = Kx
∗
, where x
∗
increases in the direction of k and
K
2
= k
2
is the magnitude of the wavenumber. With this, we can write (3.2) as
ψ = Re ` ψe
i(Kx
∗
−ωt)
= Re ` ψe
iK(x
∗
−ct)
, (1.7)
where c = ω/K. From this equation it is evident that the phase of the wave propagates
at the speed c in the direction of k, and we deﬁne the phase speed by
c
p
≡
ω
K
. (1.8)
The wavelength of the wave, λ, is the distance between two wavecrests — that is, the
distance between two locations along the line of travel whose phase differs by 2π — and
evidently this is given by
λ =
2π
K
. (1.9)
In (for simplicity) a twodimensional wave, and referring to Fig. 3.1(a), the wavelength
and wave vectors in the x and ydirections are given by,
λ
x
=
λ
cos φ
, λ
y
=
λ
sinφ
, k
x
= Kcos φ, k
y
= Ksinφ. (1.10)
In general, lines of constant phase intersect both the coordinate axes and propagate along
them. The speed of propagation along these axes is given by
c
x
p
= c
p
l
x
l
=
c
p
cos φ
= c
p
K
k
x
=
ω
k
x
, c
y
p
= c
p
l
y
l
=
c
p
sinφ
= c
p
K
k
y
=
ω
k
y
, (1.11)
using (3.8) and (3.10). The speed of phase propagation along any one of the axis is
in general larger than the phase speed in the primary direction of the wave. The phase
speeds are clearly not components of a vector: for example, c
x
p
≠ c
p
cos φ. Analogously,
the wavevector k is a true vector, whereas the wavelength λ is not.
To summarize, the phase speed and its components are given by
c
p
=
ω
K
, c
x
p
=
ω
k
x
, c
y
p
=
ω
k
y
. (1.12)
6 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Fig. 1.1 The propagation of a twodimensional wave. (a) Two lines of constant phase
(e.g., two wavecrests) at a time t
1
. The wave is propagating in the direction k with
wavelength λ. (b) The same line of constant phase at two successive times. The phase
speed is the speed of advancement of the wavecrest in the direction of travel, and so
c
p
= l/(t
2
−t
1
). The phase speed in the xdirection is the speed of propagation of the
wavecrest along the xaxis, and c
x
p
= l
x
/(t
2
−t
1
) = c
p
/ cos φ.
Phase velocity
Although it is not particularly useful, there is a way of deﬁning a phase speed so that is a
true vector, and which might then be called phase velocity. We deﬁne the phase velocity
to be the phase speed in the direction in which the wave crests are propagating; that is
c
p
≡
ω
K
k
K
, (1.13)
where k/K is the unit vector in the direction of wavecrest propagation. The compo
nents of the phase velocity in the the x and ydirections are then given by
c
x
p
= c
p
cos φ, c
y
p
= c
p
sinφ. (1.14)
Deﬁned this way, the quantity given by (3.14) is indeed a true vector velocity. However,
the components in the x and ydirections are manifestly not the speed at which wave
crests propagate in those directions. It is therefore a misnomer to call these quantities
phase speeds, although it is helpful to ascribe a direction to the phase speed and so the
quantity given by (3.14) can be useful.
1.1.3 The dispersion relation
Much of above description is mostly kinematic and a little abstract, applying to almost
any disturbance that has a wavevector and a frequency. The particular dynamics of a
wave are determined by the relationship between the wavevector and the frequency;
that is, by the dispersion relation. Once the dispersion relation is known a great many
of the properties of the wave follow in a moreorless straightforward manner, as we will
1.2 Group Velocity 7
see. Picking up from (3.3), the dispersion relation is a functional relationship between
the frequency and the wavevector of the general form
ω= Ω(k). (1.15)
Perhaps the simplest example of a linear operator that gives rise to waves is the one
dimensional equation
∂ψ
∂t
+c
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.16)
Substituting a trial solution of the form ψ = ReAe
i(kx−ωt)
, where Re denotes the real
part, we obtain (−iω+cik)A = 0, giving the dispersion relation
ω= ck. (1.17)
The phase speed of this wave is c
p
= ω/k = c.
A few other examples of governing equations, dispersion relations and phase speeds
are:
∂ψ
∂t
+c · ∇ψ = 0, ω= c · k, c
p
= c cos θ, c
x
p
=
c · k
k
, c
y
p
=
c · k
l
(1.18a)
∂
2
ψ
∂t
2
−c
2
∇
2
ψ = 0, ω
2
= c
2
K
2
, c
p
= ±c, c
x
p
= ±
cK
k
, c
y
p
= ±
cK
l
, (1.18b)
∂
∂t
∇
2
ψ+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0, ω=
−βk
K
2
, c
p
=
ω
K
, c
x
p
= −
β
K
2
, c
y
p
= −
βk/l
K
2
. (1.18c)
where K
2
= k
2
+l
2
and θ is the angle between c and k.
A wave is said to be nondispersive or dispersionless if the phase speed is independent
of the wavelength. This condition is clearly satisﬁed for the simple example (3.16) but
is manifestly not satisﬁed for (3.18c), and these waves (Rossby waves, in fact) are dis
persive. Waves of different wavelengths then travel at different speeds so that a group
of waves will spread out or disperse (hence the name), even if the medium is homo
geneous. When a wave is dispersive there is another characteristic speed at which the
waves propagate, known as the group velocity, and we come to this in the next section.
Most media are, of course, inhomogeneous, but if the medium varies sufﬁciently
slowly — and in particular if the variations are slow compared to the wavelength — we
may still have a local dispersion relation between frequency and wavevector,
ω= Ω(k; x, t). (1.19)
Although Ω is a function of k, x and t the semicolon in (3.19) is used to suggest that x
and t are slowly varying parameters of a somewhat different nature than k. We’ll pick
up our discussion of this in section 3.3, but before that we must introduced the group
velocity.
1.2 GROUP VELOCITY
Information and energy travel clearly cannot travel at the phase speed, for as the direc
tion of propagation of the phase line tends to a direction parallel to the yaxis, the phase
8 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Wave Fundamentals
A wave is a propagating disturbance that has a characteristic relationship between
its frequency and size, known as the dispersion relation. Waves typically arise as
solutions to a linear problem of the form
L(ψ) = 0, (W.1)
where L is (commonly) a linear operator in space and time. Two examples are
∂
2
ψ
∂t
2
−c
2
∇
2
ψ = 0 and
∂
∂t
∇
2
ψ+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (W.2)
The ﬁrst example is so common in all areas of physics it is sometimes called ‘the’ wave
equation. The second example gives rise to Rossby waves.
Solutions to the governing equation are often sought in the form of plane waves that
have the form
ψ = ReAe
i(k·x−ωt)
, (W.3)
where A is the wave amplitude, k the wavevector, k = (k, l, m), and ω is the frequency.
The dispersion relation is a functional relationship between the frequency and
wavevector of the form ω = Ω(k) where Ω is a function. It arises from substitut
ing a trial solution like (W.3) into the governing equation (W.1). For the examples
of (W.2) we obtain ω = c
2
K
2
and ω = −βk/K
2
and K
2
= k
2
+ l
2
+ m
2
or, in two
dimensions, K
2
= k
2
+l
2
.
The phase speed is the speed at which the wave crests move. In the direction of
propagation and in the x, y and z directions group speed is given by, respectively,
c
p
=
ω
K
, c
x
p
=
ω
k
, c
y
p
=
ω
l
, c
z
p
=
ω
m
. (W.4)
where K = 2π/λ where λ is the wavelength. Phase speed is not a vector.
The group velocity is the velocity at which a wave packet or wave group moves. It is
a vector and is given by
c
g
=
∂ω
∂k
, c
x
g
=
∂ω
∂k
, c
y
g
=
∂ω
∂l
, c
z
g
=
∂ω
∂m
. (W.5)
Energy and various other physical quantities are also transported at the group velocity.
If the medium is inhomogeneous but only slowly varying in space and time, then
approximate solutions may sometimes be found in the form
ψ = ReA(x, t) e
iθ(x,t)
, (W.6)
where the amplitude A is also slowly varying and the local wavenumber and frequency
are related to the phase, θ, by k = ∇θ and ω = −∂θ/∂t . The dispersion relation is
then a local one of the form ω= Ω(k; x, t).
1.2 Group Velocity 9
Fig. 1.2 Superposition of two sinusoidal waves with wavenumbers k and k + δk, pro
ducing a wave (solid line) that is modulated by a slowly varying wave envelope or wave
packet (dashed line). The envelope moves at the group velocity, c
g
= ∂ω/∂k and the
phase of the wave moves at the group speed c
p
= ω/k.
speed in the xdirection tends to inﬁnity! Rather, it turns out that most quantities of
interest, including energy, propagate at the group velocity, a quantity of enormous impor
tance in wave theory. Rather roughly, this is the velocity at which a packet or a group of
waves will travel, whereas the individual wave crests travel at the phase speed. To intro
duce the idea we will consider consider the superposition of plane waves, noting that a
monochromatic plane wave already ﬁlls space uniformly so that there can be no propa
gation of energy from place to place. We will restrict attention to waves propagating in
one direction, but the argument may be extended to two or three dimensions.
1.2.1 Superposition of two waves
Consider the linear superposition of two waves. Limiting attention to the onedimensional
case for simplicity, consider a disturbance represented by
ψ = Re ` ψ(e
i(k
1
x−ω
1
t)
+e
i(k
2
x−ω
2
t)
). (1.20)
Let us further suppose that the two waves have similar wavenumbers and frequency, and,
in particular, that k
1
= k + ∆k and k
2
= k − ∆k, and ω
1
= ω+ ∆ω and ω
2
= ω− ∆ω.
With this, (3.20) becomes
ψ = Re ` ψe
i(kx−ωt)
[e
i(∆kx−∆ωt)
+e
−i(∆kx−∆ωt)
]
= 2Re ` ψe
i(kx−ωt)
cos(∆kx −∆ωt).
(1.21)
The resulting disturbance, illustrated in Fig. 3.2 has two aspects: a rapidly varying com
ponent, with wavenumber k and frequency ω, and a more slowly varying envelope, with
wavenumber ∆k and frequency ∆ω. The envelope modulates the fast oscillation, and
moves with velocity ∆ω/∆k; in the limit ∆k → 0 and ∆ω → 0 this is the group velocity,
c
g
= ∂ω/∂k. Group velocity is equal to the phase speed, ω/k, only when the frequency is
a linear function of wavenumber. The energy in the disturbance must move at the group
velocity — note that the node of the envelope moves at the speed of the envelope and no
10 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
energy can cross the node. These concepts generalize to more than one dimension, and if
the wavenumber is the threedimensional vector k = (k, l, m) then the threedimensional
envelope propagates at the group velocity given by
c
g
=
∂ω
∂k
≡
∂ω
∂k
,
∂ω
∂l
,
∂ω
∂m
¸
. (1.22)
1.2.2
Superposition of many waves
Now consider a generalization of the above arguments to the case in which many waves
are excited. In a homogeneous medium, nearly all wave patterns can be represented as a
superposition of an inﬁnite number of plane waves; mathematically the problemis solved
by evaluating a Fourier integral. For mathematical simplicity we’ll continue to treat only
the onedimensional case but the three dimensional generalization is straightforward.
A superposition of plane waves, each satisfying some dispersion relation, can be rep
resented by the Fourier integral
ψ(x, t) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
i(kx−ωt)
dk. (1.23a)
The function
`
A(k) is given by the initial conditions:
`
A(k) =
1
2π
∞
−∞
ψ(x, 0) e
−ikx
dx. (1.23b)
As an aside, note that if the waves are dispersionless and ω = ck where c is a constant,
then
ψ(x, t) =
+∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
ik(x−ct)
dk = ψ(x −ct, 0), (1.24)
by comparison with (3.23a) at t = 0. That is, the initial condition simply translates at a
speed c, with no change in structure.
Although the above procedure is quite general it doesn’t get us very far: it doesn’t
provide us with any physical intuition, and the integrals themselves may be hard to eval
uate. A physically more revealing case is to consider the case for which the disturbance
is a wave packet — essentially a nearly plane wave or superposition of waves conﬁned to
a ﬁnite region of space. We will consider a case with the initial condition
ψ(x, 0) = a(x) e
ik
0
x
(1.25)
where a(x), rather like the envelope in Fig. 3.3, modulates the amplitude of the wave on
a scale much longer than that of the wavelength 2π/k
0
, and more slowly than the wave
period. That is,
1
a
∂a
∂x
k
0
,
1
a
∂a
∂t
k
0
c, (1.26a,b)
and the disturbance is essentially a slowly modulated plane wave. We suppose that a(x)
is peaked around some value x
0
and is very small if x −x
0
 k
−1
0
; that is, a(x) is small
if we are several wavelengths of the plane wave away from the peak. We would like to
know how such a packet evolves.
1.2 Group Velocity 11
a(x)
0
= 2⇡/k
0
L
x
L
x
0
c
p
c
g
Fig. 1.3 A generic wave packet. The envelope, a(x), has a scale L
x
that is much larger
than the wavelength, λ
0
, of the wave embedded within in. The envelope moves at the
group velocity, c
g
, and the phase of the waves at the phase speed, c
p
.
We can express the envelope as a Fourier integral by ﬁrst noting that that we can
write the initial conditions as a Fourier integral,
ψ(x, 0) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
ikx
dk where
`
A(k) =
1
2π
+∞
−∞
ψ(x, 0) e
−ikx
dx, (1.27a,b)
so that, using (3.25),
`
A(k) =
1
2π
+∞
−∞
a(x) e
i(k
0
−k)x
dx and a(x) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
i(k−k
0
)x
dk. (1.28a,b)
We still haven’t made much progress beyond (3.23). To do so, we note ﬁrst that a(x) is
conﬁned in space, so that to a good approximation the limits of the integral in (3.28a)
can be made ﬁnite, ±L say, provided L k
−1
0
. We then note that when (k
0
−k)x is large
the integrand in (3.28a) oscillates rapidly; successive intervals in x therefore cancel each
other and make a small net contribution to the integral. Thus, the integral is dominated
by values of k near k
0
, and
`
A(k) is peaked near k
0
. (Note that the ﬁnite spatial extent of
a(x) is crucial for this argument.)
We can now evaluate how the wave packet evolves. Beginning with (3.23a) we have
ψ(x, t) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) exp{i(kx −ω(k)t)} dk (1.29a)
≈
`
A(k) exp
i[k
0
x −ω(k
0
)t] +i(k −k
0
)x −i(k −k
0
)
∂ω
∂k
¸
¸
¸
¸
k=k
0
t
dk (1.29b)
having expanded ω(k) in a Taylor series about k and kept only the ﬁrst two terms, noting
that the wavenumber band is limited. We therefore have
ψ(x, t) = exp{i[k
0
x −ω(k
0
)t]}
`
A(k) exp
i(k −k
0
)
¸
x −
∂ω
∂k
¸
¸
¸
¸
k=k
0
t
dk (1.30a)
= exp{i[k
0
x −ω(k
0
)t]} a
¸
x −c
g
t
(1.30b)
12 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
where c
g
= ∂ω/∂k evaluated at k = k
0
. That is to say, the envelope a(x) moves at the
group velocity.
The group velocity has a meaning beyond that implied by the derivation above: there
is no need to restrict attention to narrow band processes, and it turns out to be a quite
general property of waves that energy (and certain other quadratic properties) propagate
at the group velocity. This is to be expected, at least in the presence of coherent wave
packets, because there is no energy outside of the wave envelope so the energy must
propagate with the envelope.
1.2.3
The method of stationary phase
We will now relax the assumption that wavenumbers are conﬁned to a narrow band and
look for solutions at large t; that is, we will be seeking a description of waves far from
their source. Consider a disturbance of the general form
ψ(x, t) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
i[kx−ω(k)t]
dk =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) e
iΘ(k;x,t)t
dk (1.31)
where Θ(k : x, t) ≡ kx/t − ω(k). (Here we regard Θ as a function of k with parameters
x and t; we will sometimes just write Θ(k) with Θ
(k) = ∂Θ/∂k.) Now, a standard result
in mathematics (known as the ‘Riemann–Lebesgue lemma’) states that
I = lim
t→∞
∞
−∞
f (k) e
ikt
dk = 0 (1.32)
provided that f (k) is integrable and
∞
−∞
f (k) dk is ﬁnite. Intuitively, as t increases the
oscillations in the integral increase and become much faster than any variation in A(k);
successive oscillations thus cancel and the integral becomes very small (Fig. 3.4).
Looking at (3.31), the integral will be small if Θ is everywhere varying with k. How
ever, if there is a region where Θ does not vary with k — that is, if there is a region where
the phase is stationary and ∂Θ/∂k = 0 — then there will be a contribution to the integral
from that region. Thus, for large t, an observer will predominantly see waves for which
Θ
(k) = 0 and so, using the deﬁnition of Θ, for which
x
t
=
∂ω
∂k
. (1.33)
In other words, at some spacetime location (x, t) the waves that dominate are those
whose group velocity ∂ω/∂k is x/t. In the example plotted in Fig. 3.4, ω= −β/k so that
the wavenumber that dominates, k
0
say, is given by solving β/k
2
0
= x/t, which for x/t = 1
and β = 400 gives k
0
= 20.
We may actually approximately calculate the contribution to ψ(x, t) from waves mov
ing with the group velocity. Let us expand Θ(k) around the point, k
0
, where Θ
(k) = 0.
We obtain
ψ(x, t) =
∞
−∞
`
A(k) exp
¸
it
¸
Θ(k
0
) +(k −k
0
)Θ
(k
0
) +
1
2
(k −k
0
)
2
Θ
(k
0
) . . .
¸¸
dk (1.34)
The higher order terms are small because k − k
0
is presumed small (for if it is large the
integral vanishes), and the term involving Θ
(k
0
) is zero. The integral becomes
ψ(x, t) =
`
A(k
0
)e
iΘ(k
0
)
∞
−∞
exp
¸
it
1
2
(k −k
0
)
2
Θ
(k
0
)
¸
dk. (1.35)
1.3 Ray Theory 13
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
−1
−0.5
0
0.5
1
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
−1
−0.5
0
0.5
1
Wavenumber, k
Wavenumber, k
k
0
t = 1
t = 12
k
0
A
(
k
)
e
i
t
Θ
(
k
;
x
,
t
)
A
(
k
)
e
i
t
Θ
(
k
;
x
,
t
)
A(k)
A(k)
Fig. 1.4 The integrand of (3.31), namely the function that when integrated over wave
number gives the wave amplitude at a particular x and t. The example shown is for a
Rossby wave with ω = −β/k, with β = 400 and x/t = 1, and hence k
0
= 20, for two
times t = 1 and t = 12. (The envelope,
`
A(k), is somewhat arbitrary.) At the later time
the oscillations are much more rapid in k, so that the contribution is more peaked
from wavenumbers near to k
0
.
We therefore have to evaluate a Gaussian, and because
∞
−∞
e
−cx
2
dx =
π/c we obtain
ψ(x, t) ≈
`
A(k
0
)e
iΘ(k
0
)
¸
−2π/(itθ
(k
0
))
¸
1/2
=
`
A(k
0
)e
i(k
0
x−ω(k
0
)t)
¸
2iπ/(tθ
(k
0
))
¸
1/2
.
(1.36)
The solution is therefore a plane wave, with wavenumber k
0
and frequency ω(k
0
), slowly
modulated by an envelope determined by the form of Θ(k
0
; x, t), where k
0
is the wave
number such that x/t = c
g
= ∂ω/∂k
k=k
0
1.3 RAY THEORY
Most waves propagate in a media that is inhomogeneous. In the Earth’s atmosphere
and ocean the stratiﬁcation varies with altitude and the Coriolis parameter varies with
latitude. In these cases it can be hard to obtain the solution of a wave problem by
Fourier methods, even approximately. Nonetheless, the ideas of signals propagating t
the group velocity is a very robust one, and it turns out that we can often obtain much
14 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
of the information we want — and in particular the trajectory of a wave — using an
approximate recipe known as ray theory, using the word theory a little generously.
3
In an inhomogeneous medium let us suppose that the solution to a particular wave
problem is of the form
ψ(x, t) = a(x, t) e
iθ(x,t)
, (1.37)
where a is the wave amplitude and θ the phase, and a varies slowly in a sense we will
make more precise shortly. The local wavenumber and frequency are deﬁned by
k ≡ ∇θ, ω≡ −
∂θ
∂t
. (1.38)
We suppose that the amplitude a varies slowly over a wavelength and a period; that is
∆a/a is small over the length 1/k and the period 1/ω or
∂a/∂x
a
k,
∂a/∂t 
a
ω (1.39)
We will assume that the wavenumber and frequency as deﬁned by (3.38) are the same as
those that would arise if the medium were homogeneous and a were a constant. Thus,
we may obtain a dispersion relation from the governing equation by keeping the spatially
(and possibly temporally) varying parameters ﬁxed and obtain
ω= Ω(k; x, t), (1.40)
and then allow x and t to vary, albeit slowly. (This procedure may be formalized using a
twoscale approximation, or equivalently using WKB methods.)
Let us now consider how the wavevector and frequency might change with position
and time. We recall from (3.6) that the wavenumber and frequency are related by
∂k
i
∂t
+
∂ω
∂x
i
= 0, (1.41)
where we use a subscript notation for vectors, and in what follows repeated indices will
be summed. Using (3.41) and (3.40) gives
∂k
i
∂t
+
∂Ω
∂x
i
+
∂Ω
∂k
j
∂k
j
∂x
i
= 0. (1.42)
This may be written
∂k
∂t
+c
g
· ∇k = −∇Ω (1.43)
where
c
g
=
∂Ω
∂k
=
∂Ω
∂k
,
∂Ω
∂l
,
∂Ω
∂m
¸
, (1.44)
is, again, the group velocity, sometimes written as c
g
= ∇
k
ω or, in subscript notation,
as c
gi
= ∂Ω/∂k
i
. The lefthand side of (3.23a) is similar to an advective derivative, but
with the velocity being a group velocity not a ﬂuid velocity. Evidently, if the dispersion
relation for frequency is not an explicit function of space the wavevector is propagated
at the group velocity.
1.3 Ray Theory 15
The frequency is, in general, a function of space, wavenumber and time, and from
the dispersion relation, (3.40), its variation is governed by
∂ω
∂t
=
∂Ω
∂t
+
∂Ω
∂k
i
∂k
i
∂t
=
∂Ω
∂t
−
∂Ω
∂k
i
∂ω
∂x
i
(1.45)
using (3.41). Thus, using the deﬁnition of group velocity, we may write
∂ω
∂t
+c
g
· ∇ω=
∂Ω
∂t
. (1.46)
As with (3.43) the lefthand side is like an advective derivative, but with the velocity
being a group velocity. If the dispersion relation is not a function of time, the frequency
propagates at the group velocity.
Motivated by (3.43) and (3.46) we deﬁne a ray as the trajectory traced by the group
velocity. Noting and if the frequency is not an explicit function of space or time, then
both the wavevector and the frequency are constant along a ray.
1.3.1 Ray theory in practice
What use is ray theory? The idea is that we use (3.43) and (3.46) to track a group of
waves from one location to another without solving the full wave equations of motion.
Indeed, it turns out that we can sometimes solve problems using ordinary differential
equations (ODEs) rather than partial differential equations (PDEs).
Suppose that the initial conditions consist of a group of waves at a position x
0
, for
which the amplitude and wavenumber vary only slowly with position. We also suppose
that we know the dispersion relation for the waves at hand; that is, we know the func
tional form of Ω(k; x, t). Let us deﬁne the total derivate following the group velocity
as
d
dt
≡
∂
∂t
+c
g
· ∇, (1.47)
so that (3.43) and (3.46) may be written as
dk
dt
= −∇Ω, (1.48a)
dω
dt
= −
∂Ω
∂t
. (1.48b)
These are ordinary differential equations for wavevector and frequency, solvable pro
vided we know the righthand sides; that is, provided we know the space and time loca
tion at which the dispersion relation [i.e., Ω(k; x, t)] is to be evaluated. But the location
is known because it is moving with the group velocity and so
dx
dt
= c
g
. (1.48c)
where c
g
= ∂Ω/∂k
x,t
(i.e., c
gi
= ∂Ω/∂k
i

x,t
).
The set (3.48) is a triplet of ordinary differential equations for the wavevector, fre
quency and position of a wave group. They may be solved, albeit sometimes numerically,
16 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Fig. 1.5 Schema of the trajec
tory of two wavepackets, each
moving with a diﬀerent group
velocity, as might be calculated
using ray theory. If the wave
packets collide ray theory must
fail.
T
i
m
e
x
Wave packet collision.
Ray theory fails.
Trajectory 1
Trajectory 2
c
g1
c
g2
to give the trajectory of a wave packet or collection of wave packets, as schematically il
lustrated in Fig. 3.5. Of course, if the medium or the wavepacket amplitude is not slowly
varying ray theory will fail, and this will perforce happen if two wave packets collide.
The amplitude of the wave packet is not given by ray theory. However, given our
earlier discussions, it should come as no surprise to ﬁnd that a quantity related to the
amplitude of a wave packet — speciﬁcally, the wave activity, which is quadratic in the
wave amplitude — is also propagated at the group velocity, but we leave our discussion
of that for later sections. We now turn our attention to a speciﬁc form of wave — Rossby
waves — but the reader whose interest is more in the general properties of waves may
skip forward to section 3.8
1.4 ROSSBY WAVES
We now shift gears and consider in some detail a particular type of waves, namely Rossby
waves in a quasigeostrophic system. These waves are perhaps the most important large
scale wave in the atmosphere and ocean (although gravity waves, discussed in the next
chapter, are arguably as important in some contexts).
4
1.4.1 Waves in a single layer
Consider ﬂow of a single homogeneous layer on a ﬂatbottomed βplane. The unforced,
inviscid equation of motion is
D
Dt
(ζ +f −k
2
d
ψ) = 0, (1.49)
where ζ = ∇
2
ψ is the vorticity and ψ is the streamfunction and k
d
= 1/L
d
is the inverse
radius of deformation. (Note that deﬁnitions of k
d
and L
d
vary, even )
1.4 Rossby Waves 17
Inﬁnite deformation radius
If the scale of motion is much less than the deformation scale then on the βplane the
equation of motion is governed by
D
Dt
(ζ +βy) = 0. (1.50)
Expanding the material derivative gives
∂ζ
∂t
+u · ∇ζ +βv = 0 or
∂ζ
∂t
+J(ψ, ζ) +β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.51)
We now linearize this equation; that is, we suppose that the ﬂow consists of a time
independent component (the ‘basic state’) plus a perturbation, with the perturbation
being small compared with the mean ﬂow. Such a mean ﬂow must satisfy the time
independent equation of motion, and purely zonal ﬂow will do this. For simplicity we
choose a ﬂow with no meridional dependence and let
ψ = Ψ +ψ
(x, y, t), (1.52)
where Ψ = −Uy and ψ
 Ψ. (The symbol U represents the zonal ﬂow of the basic
state, not a magnitude for scaling purposes.) Substitute (3.52) into (3.51) and neglect
the nonlinear terms involving products of ψ
to give
∂ζ
∂t
+J(Ψ, ζ
) +β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0 or
∂
∂t
∇
2
ψ
+U
∂∇
2
ψ
∂x
+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.53a,b)
Solutions to this equation may be found in the form of a plane wave,
ψ
= Re ` ψe
i(kx+ly−ωt)
, (1.54)
where Re indicates the real part of the function (and this will sometimes be omitted
if no ambiguity is socaused). Solutions of the form (3.54) are valid in a domain with
doublyperiodic boundary conditions; solutions in a channel can be obtained using a
meridional variation of sinly, with no essential changes to the dynamics. The amplitude
of the oscillation is given by ` ψ and the phase by kx + ly − ωt, where k and l are the x
and ywavenumbers and ω is the frequency of the oscillation.
Substituting (3.54) into (3.53) yields
[(−ω+Uk)(−K
2
) +βk] ` ψ = 0, (1.55)
where K
2
= k
2
+l
2
. For nontrivial solutions this implies
ω= Uk −
βk
K
2
. (1.56)
This is the dispersion relation for Rossby waves. The phase speed, c
p
, and group velocity,
c
g
, in the xdirection are
c
x
p
≡
ω
k
= U −
β
K
2
, c
x
g
≡
∂ω
∂k
= U +
β(k
2
−l
2
)
(k
2
+l
2
)
2
. (1.57a,b)
18 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
The velocity U provides a uniform translation, and Doppler shifts the frequency. The
phase speed in the absence of a mean ﬂow is westwards, with waves of longer wave
lengths travelling more quickly, and the eastward current speed required to hold the
waves of a particular wavenumber stationary (i.e., c
x
p
= 0) is U = β/K
2
. We discuss the
meaning of the group velocity in the appendix.
Finite deformation radius
For a ﬁnite deformation radius the basic state Ψ = −Uy is still a solution of the original
equations of motion, but the potential vorticity corresponding to this state is q = Uy/L
2
d
+
βy and its gradient is ∇q = (β +U/L
2
d
)j. The linearized equation of motion is thus
∂
∂t
+U
∂
∂x
¸
(∇
2
ψ
−ψ
/L
2
d
) +(β +U/L
2
d
)
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.58)
Substituting ψ
= ` ψe
i(kx+ly−ωt)
we obtain the dispersion relation,
ω=
k(UK
2
−β)
K
2
+1/L
2
d
= Uk −k
β +U/L
2
d
K
2
+1/L
2
d
. (1.59)
The corresponding xcomponents of phase speed and group velocity are
c
x
p
= U −
β +Uk
2
d
K
2
+k
2
d
=
UK
2
−β
K
2
+k
2
d
, c
x
g
= U +
(β +Uk
2
d
)(k
2
−l
2
−k
2
d
)
(k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
)
2
, (1.60a,b)
where k
d
= 1/L
d
. The uniformvelocity ﬁeld nowno longer provides just a simple Doppler
shift of the frequency, nor a uniform addition to the phase speed. From (3.60a) the waves
are stationary when K
2
= K
2
s
≡ β/U; that is, the current speed required to hold waves
of a particular wavenumber stationary is U = β/K
2
. However, this is not simply the
magnitude of the phase speed of waves of that wavenumber in the absence of a current
— this is given by
c
x
p
= −
β
K
2
s
+k
2
d
= −
U
1 +k
2
d
/K
2
s
. (1.61)
Why is there a difference? It is because the current does not just provide a uniform trans
lation, but, if L
d
is nonzero, it also modiﬁes the basic potential vorticity gradient. The
basic state height ﬁeld η
0
is sloping, that is η
0
= −(f
0
/g)Uy, and the ambient potential
vorticity ﬁeld increases with y, that is q = (β + U/L
2
d
)y. Thus, the basic state deﬁnes a
preferred frame of reference, and the problem is not Galilean invariant.
5
We also note
that, from (3.60b), the group velocity is negative (westward) if the xwavenumber is suf
ﬁciently small, compared to the ywavenumber or the deformation wavenumber. That
is, said a little loosely, long waves move information westward and short waves move in
formation eastward, and this is a common property of Rossby waves The xcomponent of
the phase speed, on the other hand, is always westward relative to the mean ﬂow.
1.4.2 The mechanism of Rossby waves
The fundamental mechanism underlying Rossby waves is easily understood. Consider a
material line of stationary ﬂuid parcels along a line of constant latitude, and suppose that
1.4 Rossby Waves 19
Fig. 1.6 The mechanism of a twodimensional (x–y) Rossby wave. An initial distur
bance displaces a material line at constant latitude (the straight horizontal line) to the
solid line marked η(t = 0). Conservation of potential vorticity, βy + ζ, leads to the
production of relative vorticity, as shown for two parcels. The associated velocity ﬁeld
(arrows on the circles) then advects the ﬂuid parcels, and the material line evolves into
the dashed line. The phase of the wave has propagated westwards.
some disturbance causes their displacement to the line marked η(t = 0) in Fig. 3.6. In the
displacement, the potential vorticity of the ﬂuid parcels is conserved, and in the simplest
case of barotropic ﬂow on the βplane the potential vorticity is the absolute vorticity,
βy + ζ. Thus, in either hemisphere, a northward displacement leads to the production
of negative relative vorticity and a southward displacement leads to the production of
positive relative vorticity. The relative vorticity gives rise to a velocity ﬁeld which, in
turn, advects the parcels in material line in the manner shown, and the wave propagates
westwards.
In more complicated situations, such as ﬂow in two layers, considered below, or in
a continuously stratiﬁed ﬂuid, the mechanism is essentially the same. A displaced ﬂuid
parcel carries with it its potential vorticity and, in the presence of a potential vorticity
gradient in the basic state, a potential vorticity anomaly is produced. The potential
vorticity anomaly produces a velocity ﬁeld (an example of potential vorticity inversion)
which further displaces the ﬂuid parcels, leading to the formation of a Rossby wave. The
vital ingredient is a basic state potential vorticity gradient, such as that provided by the
change of the Coriolis parameter with latitude.
1.4.3 Rossby waves in two layers
Now consider the dynamics of the twolayer model, linearized about a state of rest. The
two, coupled, linear equations describing the motion in each layer are
∂
∂t
¸
∇
2
ψ
1
+F
1
(ψ
2
−ψ
1
)
¸
+β
∂ψ
1
∂x
= 0, (1.62a)
∂
∂t
¸
∇
2
ψ
2
+F
2
(ψ
1
−ψ
2
)
¸
+β
∂ψ
2
∂x
= 0, (1.62b)
where F
1
= f
2
0
/g
H
1
and F
2
= f
2
0
/g
H
2
. By inspection (3.62) may be transformed into two
uncoupled equations: the ﬁrst is obtained by multiplying (3.62a) by F
2
and (3.62b) by
20 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
F
1
and adding, and the second is the difference of (3.62a) and (3.62b). Then, deﬁning
ψ =
F
1
ψ
2
+F
2
ψ
1
F
1
+F
2
, τ =
1
2
(ψ
1
−ψ
2
), (1.63a,b)
(think ‘τ for temperature’), (3.62) become
∂
∂t
∇
2
ψ+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0, (1.64a)
∂
∂t
¸
(∇
2
−k
2
d
)τ
¸
+β
∂τ
∂x
= 0, (1.64b)
where now k
d
= (F
1
+ F
2
)
1/2
. The internal radius of deformation for this problem is the
inverse of this, namely
L
d
= k
−1
d
=
1
f
0
g
H
1
H
2
H
1
+H
2
¸
1/2
. (1.65)
The variables ψ and τ are the normal modes for the twolayer model, as they oscillate
independently of each other. [For the continuous equations the analogous modes are the
eigenfunctions of ∂
z
[(f
2
0
/N
2
)∂
z
φ] = λ
2
φ.] The equation for ψ, the barotropic mode, is
identical to that of the singlelayer, rigidlid model, namely (3.53) with U = 0, and its
dispersion relation is just
ω= −
βk
K
2
. (1.66)
The barotropic mode corresponds to synchronous, depthindependent, motion in the two
layers, with no undulations in the dividing interface.
The displacement of the interface is given by 2f
0
τ/g
and so proportional to the
amplitude of τ, the baroclinic mode. The dispersion relation for the baroclinic mode is
ω= −
βk
K
2
+k
2
d
. (1.67)
The mass transport associated with this mode is identically zero, since from (3.63) we
have
ψ
1
= ψ+
2F
1
τ
F
1
+F
2
, ψ
2
= ψ−
2F
2
τ
F
1
+F
2
, (1.68a,b)
and this implies
H
1
ψ
1
+H
2
ψ
2
= (H
1
+H
2
)ψ. (1.69)
The lefthand side is proportional to the total mass transport, which is evidently associ
ated with the barotropic mode.
The dispersion relation and associated group and phase velocities are plotted in
Fig. 3.7. The xcomponent of the phase speed, ω/k, is negative (westwards) for both
baroclinic and barotropic Rossby waves. The group velocity of the barotropic waves
is always positive (eastwards), but the group velocity of long baroclinic waves may be
negative (westwards). For very short waves, k
2
k
2
d
, the baroclinic and barotropic ve
locities coincide and their phase and group velocities are equal and opposite. With a
deformation radius of 50 km, typical for the midlatitude ocean, then a nondimensional
frequency of unity in the ﬁgure corresponds to a dimensional frequency of 5 × 10
−7
s
−1
or a period of about 100 days. In an atmosphere with a deformation radius of 1000km
1.5 * Rossby Waves in Stratiﬁed QuasiGeostrophic Flow 21
Fig. 1.7 Left: the dispersion relation for barotropic (ω
t
, solid line) and baroclinic
(ω
c
, dashed line) Rossby waves in the twolayer model, calculated using (3.66) and
(3.67) with k
y
= 0, plotted for both positive and negative zonal wavenumbers and
frequencies. The wavenumber is nondimensionalized by k
d
, and the frequency is
nondimensionalized by β/k
d
. Right: the corresponding zonal group and phase ve
locities, c
g
= ∂ω/∂k
x
and c
p
= ω/k
x
, with superscript ‘t’ or ‘c’ for the barotropic or
baroclinic mode, respectively. The velocities are nondimensionalized by β/k
2
d
.
a nondimensional frequency of unity corresponds to 1 ×10
−5
s
−1
or a period of about 7
days. Nondimensional velocities of unity correspond to respective dimensional velocities
of about 0.25ms
−1
(ocean) and 10ms
−1
(atmosphere).
The deformation radius only affects the baroclinic mode. For scales much smaller
than the deformation radius, K
2
k
2
d
, we see from (3.64b) that the baroclinic mode
obeys the same equation as the barotropic mode so that
∂
∂t
∇
2
τ +β
∂τ
∂x
= 0. (1.70)
Using this and (3.64a) implies that
∂
∂t
∇
2
ψ
i
+β
∂ψ
i
∂x
= 0, i = 1, 2. (1.71)
That is to say, the two layers themselves are uncoupled from each other. At the other
extreme, for very long baroclinic waves the relative vorticity is unimportant.
1.5 * ROSSBY WAVES IN STRATIFIED QUASIGEOSTROPHIC FLOW
1.5.1 Setting up the problem
Let us now consider the dynamics of linear waves in stratiﬁed quasigeostrophic ﬂow
on a βplane, with a resting basic state. (In chapter ?? we explore the role of Rossby
waves in a more realistic setting.) The interior ﬂow is governed by the potential vorticity
equation, (??), and linearizing this about a state of rest gives
∂
∂t
¸
∇
2
ψ
+
1
` ρ(z)
∂
∂z
` ρ(z)F(z)
∂ψ
∂z
¸
+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0, (1.72)
22 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
where ` ρ is the density proﬁle of the basic state and F(z) = f
2
0
/N
2
. (F is the square of the
inverse Prandtl ratio, N/f
0
.) In the Boussinesq approximation ` ρ = ρ
0
, i.e., a constant.
The vertical boundary conditions are determined by the thermodynamic equation, (??).
If the boundaries are ﬂat, rigid, slippery surfaces then w = 0 at the boundaries and if
there is no surface buoyancy gradient the linearized thermodynamic equation is
∂
∂t
∂ψ
∂z
¸
= 0. (1.73)
We apply this at the ground and, with somewhat less justiﬁcation, at the tropopause —
the higher static stability of the stratosphere inhibits vertical motion. If the ground is
not ﬂat or if friction provides a vertical velocity by way of an Ekman layer, the boundary
condition must be correspondingly modiﬁed, but we will stay with the simplest case here
and apply (3.73) at z = 0 and z = H.
1.5.2 Wave motion
As in the singlelayer case, we seek solutions of the form
ψ
= Re ` ψ(z) e
i(kx+ly−ωt)
, (1.74)
where ` ψ(z) will determine the vertical structure of the waves. The case of a sphere is
more complicated but introduces no truly new physical phenomena.
Substituting (3.74) into (3.72) gives
ω
¸
−K
2
` ψ(z) +
1
` ρ
∂
∂z
` ρF(z)
∂ ` ψ
∂z
¸
−βk ` ψ(z) = 0. (1.75)
Now, if ` ψ satisﬁes
1
` ρ
∂
∂z
` ρF(z)
∂ ` ψ
∂z
¸
= −Γ ` ψ, (1.76)
where Γ is a constant, then the equation of motion becomes
−ω
¸
K
2
+Γ
¸
` ψ−βk ` ψ = 0, (1.77)
and the dispersion relation follows, namely
ω= −
βk
K
2
+Γ
. (1.78)
Equation (3.76) constitutes an eigenvalue problem for the vertical structure; the bound
ary conditions, derived from (3.73), are ∂ ` ψ/∂z = 0 at z = 0 and z = H. The resulting
eigenvalues, Γ are proportional to the inverse of the squares of the deformation radii for
the problem and the eigenfunctions are the vertical structure functions.
1.5 * Rossby Waves in Stratiﬁed QuasiGeostrophic Flow 23
A simple example
Consider the case in which F(z) and ` ρ are constant, and in which the domain is conﬁned
between two rigid surfaces at z = 0 and z = H. Then the eigenvalue problem for the
vertical structure is
F
∂
2
` ψ
∂z
2
= −Γ ` ψ (1.79a)
with boundary conditions of
∂ ` ψ
∂z
= 0, at z = 0, H. (1.79b)
There is a sequence of solutions to this, namely
` ψ
n
(z) = cos(nπz/H), n = 1, 2. . . (1.80)
with corresponding eigenvalues
Γ
n
= n
2
Fπ
2
H
2
= (nπ)
2
f
0
NH
¸
2
, n = 1, 2. . . . (1.81)
Equation (3.81) may be used to deﬁne the deformation radii for this problem, namely
L
n
≡
1
√
Γ
n
=
NH
nπf
0
. (1.82)
The ﬁrst deformation radius is the same as the expression obtained by dimensional anal
ysis, namely NH/f , except for a factor of π. (Deﬁnitions of the deformation radii both
with and without the factor of π are common in the literature, and neither is obviously
more correct. In the latter case, the ﬁrst deformation radius in a problem with uniform
stratiﬁcation is given by NH/f , equal to π/
Γ
1
.) In addition to these baroclinic modes,
the case with n = 0, that is with ` ψ = 1, is also a solution of (3.79) for any F(z).
Using (3.78) and (3.81) the dispersion relation becomes
ω= −
βk
K
2
+(nπ)
2
(f
0
/NH)
2
, n = 0, 1, 2. . . (1.83)
and, of course, the horizontal wavenumbers k and l are also quantized in a ﬁnite domain.
The dynamics of the barotropic mode are independent of height and independent of the
stratiﬁcation of the basic state, and so these Rossby waves are identical with the Rossby
waves in a homogeneous ﬂuid contained between two ﬂat rigid surfaces. The structure
of the baroclinic modes, which in general depends on the structure of the stratiﬁcation,
becomes increasingly complex as the vertical wavenumber n increases. This increasing
complexity naturally leads to a certain delicacy, making it rare that they can be unam
biguously identiﬁed in nature. The eigenproblem for a realistic atmospheric proﬁle is
further complicated because of the lack of a rigid lid at the top of the atmosphere.
6
24 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Rossby Waves
Rossby waves are waves that owe their existence to a gradient of potential vorticity
in the ﬂuid. If a ﬂuid parcel is displaced, it conserves its potential vorticity and so its
relative vorticity will in general change. The relative vorticity creates a velocity ﬁeld
that displaces neighbouring parcels, whose relative vorticity changes and so on.
A common source of a potential vorticity gradient is differential rotation, or the β
effect. In the presence of nonzero β the ambient potential vorticity increases north
ward and the phase of the Rossby waves propagates westward. In general, Rossby
waves propagate pseudowestwards, meaning to the left of the direction of the poten
tial vorticity gradient.
In the simple case of a single layer of ﬂuid with no mean ﬂow the equation of motion
is
∂
∂t
(∇
2
+k
2
d
)ψ+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0 (RW.1)
with dispersion relation
ω=
−βk
k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
. (RW.2)
The phase speed is always negative, or westward. If there is no mean ﬂow, the com
ponents of the group velocity are given by
c
x
g
=
β(k
2
−l
2
−k
2
d
)
(k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
)
2
, c
y
g
=
2βkl
(k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
)
2
, (1.3a,b)
The group velocity is westward if the zonal wavenumber is sufﬁciently small, and
eastward if the zonal wavenumber is sufﬁciently large.
The reﬂection of such Rossby waves at a wall is (like light) specular, meaning that
the group velocity of the reﬂected wave makes the same angle with the wall as the
group velocity of the incident wave. The energy ﬂux of the reﬂected wave is equal
and opposite to that of the incoming wave in the direction normal to the wall.
Rossby waves exist in stratiﬁed ﬂuids, and have a similar dispersion relation to (RW.3)
with an appropriate redeﬁnition of the inverse deformation radius, k
d
.
1.6 ENERGY FLUX OF ROSSBY WAVES
We now consider how energy is ﬂuxed in Rossby waves. To keep matters reasonably
simple from an algebraic point of view we will consider waves in a single layer and
without a mean ﬂow, but we will allow for a ﬁnite radius of deformation. To remind
ourselves, the dynamics are governed by the evolution of potential vorticity equation
1.6 Energy Flux of Rossby Waves 25
and the linearized evolution equation is
∂
∂t
∇
2
−k
2
d
ψ+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.84)
The dispersion relation follows in the usual way and is
ω=
−kβ
K
2
+k
2
d
. (1.85)
which is a simpliﬁcation of (3.59), and the group velocities are
c
x
g
=
β(k
2
−l
2
−k
2
d
)
(K
2
+k
2
d
)
2
, c
y
g
=
2βkl
(K
2
+k
2
d
)
2
, (1.86a,b)
which are simpliﬁcations of (3.60), and as usual K
2
= k
2
+l
2
.
To obtain an energy equation multiply (3.84) by −ψ to obtain, after a couple of lines
of algebra,
1
2
∂
∂t
(∇ψ)
2
+k
2
d
ψ
2
−∇ ·
ψ∇
∂ψ
∂t
+iβψ
2
¸
= 0. (1.87)
where i is the unit vector in the x direction. The ﬁrst group of terms are the energy itself,
or more strictly the energy density. (An energy density is an energy per unit mass or per
unit volume, depending on the context.) The term (∇ψ)
2
/2 = (u
2
+v
2
)/2 is the kinetic
energy and k
2
d
ψ
2
/2 is the potential energy, proportional to the displacement of the free
surface, squared. The second term is the energy ﬂux, so that we may write
∂E
∂t
+∇ · F = 0. (1.88)
where E = (∇ψ)
2
/2 +k
2
d
ψ
2
and F = −
¸
ψ∇∂ψ/∂t +iβψ
2
. We haven’t yet used the fact
that the disturbance has a dispersion relation, and if we do so we may expect, following
the derivations of section 3.2, that the energy moves at the group velocity. Let us now
demonstrate this explicitly.
We assume solution of the form
ψ = A(x) cos(k · x −ωt) = A(x) cos (kx +ly −ωt) (1.89)
where A(x) is assumed to vary slowly compared to the nearly plane wave. (Note that k
is the wave vector, to be distinguished from k, the unit vector in the zdirection.) The
kinetic energy in a wave is given by
KE =
A
2
2
ψ
2
x
+ψ
2
y
(1.90)
so that, averaged over a wave period,
KE =
A
2
2
(k
2
+l
2
)
ω
2π
2π/ω
0
sin
2
(k · x −ωt) dt. (1.91)
The timeaveraging produces a factor of one half, and applying a similar procedure1 to
the potential energy we obtain
KE =
A
2
4
(k
2
+l
2
), PE =
A
2
4
k
2
d
, (1.92)
26 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
so that the average total energy is
E =
A
2
4
(K
2
+k
2
d
), (1.93)
where K
2
= k
2
+l
2
.
The ﬂux, F, is given by
F = −
ψ∇
∂ψ
∂t
+iβψ
2
¸
= −A
2
cos
2
(k · x −ωt)
kω−i
β
2
¸
, (1.94)
so that evidently the energy ﬂux has a component in the direction of the wavevector,
k, and a component in the xdirection. Averaging over a wave period straightforwardly
gives us additional factors of one half:
F = −
A
2
2
kω+i
β
2
¸
. (1.95)
We now use the dispersion relation ω= −βk/(K
2
+k
2
d
) to eliminate the frequency, giving
F =
A
2
β
2
k
k
K
2
+k
2
d
−i
1
2
¸
, (1.96)
and writing this in component form we obtain
F = i
A
2
β
4
k
2
−l
2
−k
2
d
K
2
+k
2
d
¸
+j
2kl
K
2
+k
2
d
. (1.97)
Comparison of (3.97) with (3.86) and (3.93) reveals that
F = c
g
E (1.98)
so that the energy propagation equation, (3.88), when averaged over a wave, becomes
∂E
∂t
+∇ · c
g
E = 0 . (1.99)
It is interesting that the variation of A plays no role in the above manipulations, so
that the derivation appears to go through if the amplitude A(x, t) is in fact a constant and
the wave is a single plane wave. This seems to ﬂy in the face of our previous discussion,
in which we noted that the group velocity was the velocity of a wave packet or at least of
a superposition of plane waves. Indeed, the derivative of the frequency with respect to
wavenumber means little if there is only one wavenumber. In fact there is nothing wrong
with the above derivation if A is a constant, and the resolution of the paradox arises by
noting that a plane wave ﬁlls all of space and time. In this case there is no convergence
of the energy ﬂux and the energy propagation equation is trivially true.
1.6.1
Rossby wave reﬂection
We now consider how Rossby waves might be reﬂected from a solid boundary. The topic
has particular oceanographic relevance, for the reﬂection of Rossby waves turns out to
one way of interpreting why intense oceanic boundary currents formon the western sides
of ocean basins, not the east. As a preliminary, let us give a useful graphic interpretation
of Rossby wave propagation.
7
1.6 Energy Flux of Rossby Waves 27
l
k
k
c
=
−β
2ω
+
β
2ω
2
−k
2
d
1/2
k
c
c
g
C
W k
O
C =
−β
2ω
, 0

→
WC =
β
2ω
2
−k
2
d
1/2
Fig. 1.8 The energy propagation diagram for Rossby waves. The wavevectors of a
given frequency all lie in a circle of radius [(β/2ω)
2
−k
2
d
]
1/2
, centered at the point C.
The closest distance of the circle to the origin is k
c
, and if the deformation radius is
inﬁnite k
c
the circle touches the origin. For a given wavenumber k, the group velocity
is along the line directed from W to C.
The energy propagation diagram
The dispersion relation for Rossby waves, ω= −βk/(k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
), may be rewritten as
(k +β/2ω)
2
+l
2
= (β/2ω)
2
−k
2
d
. (1.100)
This equation is the parametric representation of a circle, meaning that the wavevector
(k, l) must lie on a circle centered at the point (−β/2ω, 0) and with radius [(β/2ω)
2
−
k
2
d
]
1/2
, as illustrated in Fig. 3.8. If the deformation radius is zero the circle touches the
origin, and if it is nonzero the distance of the closest point to the circle, k
c
say, is given
by k
c
= −β/2ω+[(β/2ω)
2
−k
2
d
]
1/2
. For low frequencies, speciﬁcally if ω β/2k, then
k
c
≈ −ωk
2
d
/β. The radius of the circle is a positive real number only when ω < β/2k
d
.
This is the maximum frequency possible, and it occurs when l = 0 and k = k
d
and when
c
x
g
= c
y
g
= 0.
It turns out that the group velocity, and hence the energy ﬂux, can be visualized
graphically from Fig. 3.8. By direct manipulation of the expressions for group velocity
and frequency we ﬁnd that
c
x
g
=
2ω
K
2
+k
2
d
2
k +
β
2ω
¸
, (1.101a)
c
y
g
=
2ω
K
2
+k
2
d
2
l. (1.101b)
(To check this, it is easiest to begin with the righthand sides and use the dispersion
relation for ω.) Now, since the center of the circle of wavevectors is at the position
28 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Fig. 1.9 The reﬂection of a Rossby wave at a
western wall, in physical space. A Rossby wave
with a westward group velocity impinges at an
angle θ
i
to a wall, inducing a reﬂected wave
moving eastward at an angle θ
r
. The reﬂection
is specular, with θ
r
= θ
i
, and energy conserv
ing, with c
gr
 = c
gi
 — see text and Fig. 3.10.
θ
i
θ
r
γ
c
gi
c
gr
x
y
(−β/2ω, 0), and referring to Fig. 3.8, we have that
c
g
=
2ω
(K
2
+k
2
d
)
2
R (1.102)
where R =
→
WC is the vector directed from W to C, that is from the end of the wavevector
itself to the center of the circle around which all the wavevectors lie.
Eq. (3.102) and Fig. 3.8 allow for a useful visualization of the energy and phase.
The phase propagates in the direction of the wave vector, and for Rossby waves this is
always westward. The group velocity is in the direction of the wave vector to the center
of the circle, and this can be either eastward (if k
2
> l
2
+k
2
d
) or westward (k
2
< l
2
+k
2
d
).
Interestingly, the velocity vector is normal to the wave vector. To see this, consider a
purely westward propagating wave for which l = 0. Then v = ∂ψ/∂x = ik ` ψ and u =
−∂ψ/∂y = −il ` ψ = 0. We now see how some of these properties can help us understand
the reﬂection of Rossby waves.
[Do we need a gray box summarizing some of the properties of reﬂection? xxx]
Reﬂection at a wall
Consider Rossby waves incident on wall making an angle γ with the xaxis, and suppose
that somehow these waves are reﬂected back into the ﬂuid interior. This is a reasonable
expectation, for the wall cannot normally simply absorb all the wave energy. We ﬁrst note
a couple of general properties about reﬂection, namely that the incident and reﬂected
wave will have the same wavenumber component along the wall and their frequencies
must be the same To see these properties, consider the case in which the wall is oriented
meridionally, along the yaxis with γ = 90°. There is no loss of generality in this choice,
because we may simply choose coordinates so that y is parallel to the wall and the β
effect, which differentiates x from y, not enter the argument. The incident and reﬂected
waves are
ψ
i
(x, y, t) = A
i
e
i(k
i
x+l
i
y−ω
i
t)
, ψ
r
(x, y, t) = A
r
e
i(k
r
x+l
r
y−ω
r
t)
, (1.103)
1.6 Energy Flux of Rossby Waves 29
with subscripts i and r denoting incident and reﬂected. At the wall, which we take to be
at x = 0, the normal velocity u = −∂ψ/∂y must be zero so that
A
i
l
i
e
i(l
i
y−ω
i
t)
+A
r
l
r
e
i(l
r
y−ω
r
t)
= 0. (1.104)
For this equation to hold for all y and all time then we must have
l
r
= l
i
, ω
r
= ω
i
. (1.105)
This result is independent of the detailed dynamics of the waves, requiring only that the
velocity is determined from a streamfunction. When we consider Rossbywave dynamics
speciﬁcally, the x and ycoordinates are not arbitrary and so the wall cannot be taken
to be aligned with the yaxis; rather, the result means that the projection of the incident
wavevector, k
i
on the wall must equal the projection of the reﬂected wavevector, k
r
. The
magnitude of the wavevector (the wavenumber) is not in general conserved by reﬂection.
Finally, given these results and using (3.104) we see that the incident and reﬂected
amplitudes are related by
A
r
= −A
i
. (1.106)
Now let’s delve a little deeper into the wavereﬂection properties.
Generally, when we consider a wave to be incident on a wall, we are supposing that
the group velocity is directed toward the wall. Suppose that a wave of given frequency,
ω, and wavevector, k
i
, and with westward group velocity is incident on a predominantly
western wall, as in Fig. 3.9. (Similar reasoning, mutatis mutandis, can be applied to a
wave incident on an eastern wall.) Let us suppose that incident wave, k
i
lies at the point
I on the wavenumber circle, and the group velocity is found by drawing a line from I to
the center of the circle, C (so c
gi
∝
→
IC), and in this case the vector is directed westward.
The projection of the k
i
must be equal to the projection of the reﬂected wave vector,
k
r
, and both wavevectors must lie in the same wavenumber circle, centered at −β/2ω,
because the frequencies of the two waves are the same. We may then graphically deter
mines the wavevector of the reﬂected wave using the construction of Fig. 3.10. Given
the wavevector, the group velocity of the reﬂected wave follows by drawing a line from
the wavevector to the center of the circle (the line
→
RC). We see from the ﬁgure that
the reﬂected group velocity is directed eastward and that it forms the same angle to the
wall as does the incident wave; that is, the reﬂection is specular. Since the amplitude
of the incoming and reﬂected wave are the same, the components of the energy ﬂux
perpendicular to the wall are equal and opposite. Furthermore, we can see from the
ﬁgure that the wavenumber of the reﬂected wave has a larger magnitude than that of
the incident wave. For waves reﬂecting of an easter boundary, the reverse is true. Put
simply, at a western boundary incident long waves are reﬂected as short waves, whereas
at an eastern boundary incident short waves are reﬂected as long waves.
Quantitatively solving for the wavenumbers of the reﬂected wave is a little tedious in
the case when the wall is at angle, but easy enough if the wall is a meridional, along the
yaxis. We know the frequency, ω, and the ywavenumber, l, so that the xwavenumber
is may be deduced from the dispersion relation
ω=
−βk
i
k
2
i
+l
2
+k
2
d
=
−βk
r
k
2
r
+l
2
+k
2
d
. (1.107)
30 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
l
k C
O
k
i
k
r
I
R
c
gi
c
gr
γ
θ
θ
x
y
Fig. 1.10 Graphical representation of the reﬂection of a Rossby wave at a western
wall, in spectral space. The incident wave has wavevector k
i
, ending at point I. Con
struct the wavevector circle through point I with radius
(β/2ω)
2
−k
2
d
and center
C = (−β/2ω, 0); the group velocity vector then lies along
→
IC and is directed west
ward. The reﬂected wave has a wavevector k
r
such that its projection on the wall is
equal to that of k
i
, and this ﬁxes the point R. The group velocity of the reﬂected wave
then lies along
→
RC, and it can be seen that c
gr
makes the same angle to the wall as
does c
gi
, except that it is directed eastward. The reﬂection is therefore both specular
and is such that the energy ﬂux directed away from the wall is equal to the energy
ﬂux directed toward the wall.
We obtain
k
i
=
−β
2ω
+
β
2ω
¸
2
−
l
2
+k
2
d
, k
r
=
−β
2ω
−
β
2ω
¸
2
−
l
2
+k
2
d
. (1.108a,b)
The signs of the squareroot terms are chosen for reﬂection at a western boundary, for
which, as we noted, the reﬂected wave has a larger (absolute) wavenumber than the
incident wave. For reﬂection at an eastern boundary, we simply reverse the signs.
Oceanographic relevance
The behaviour of Rossby waves at lateral boundaries is not surprisingly of some oceano
graphic importance, there being two particularly important examples. One of them con
cerns the equatorial ocean, and the other the formation of western boundary currents,
common in midlatitudes. We only touch on these topics here, deferring a more extensive
treatments to later chapters.
Suppose that Rossby waves are generated in the middle of the ocean, for example
by the wind or possibly by some ﬂuid dynamical instability in the ocean. Shorter waves
1.7 Rossbygravity Waves: an Introduction 31
will tend to propagate eastward, and be reﬂected back at the eastern boundary as long
waves, and long waves will tend to propagate westward, being reﬂected back as short
waves. The reﬂection at the western boundary is believed to be particularly important
in the dynamics of El Niño. although the situation is further complicated because the
reﬂection may also generate eastward moving equatorial Kelvin waves, which we discuss
more in the next chapter.
In midlatitudes the reﬂection at a western boundary generates Rossby waves that
have a short zonal length scale (the meridional scale is the same as the incident wave
if the wall is meridional), which means that their meridional velocity is large. Now, if
the zonal wavenumber is much larger than both the meridional wavenumber l and the
inverse deformation radius k
d
then, using either (3.57) or (??) the group velocity in the
xdirection is given by cg
x
= U +β/k
2
, where U is the zonal mean ﬂow. If the mean ﬂow
is westward, so that U is negative, then very short waves will be unable to escape from
the boundary; speciﬁcally, if k >
β/ −U then the waves will be trapped in a western
boundary layer. [More here ?? xxx]
1.7 ROSSBYGRAVITY WAVES: AN INTRODUCTION
We now consider Rossby waves and shallow water gravity waves together, keeping f
constant except where differentiated, following Hendershott (5.11). The equations of
motion are the shallow water equations in Cartesian coordinates in a rotating frame of
reference, namely
∂u
∂t
−f v = −g
∂φ
∂x
,
∂v
∂t
+f u = −g
∂φ
∂y
, (1.109a,b)
∂η
∂t
+c
2
∂u
∂x
+
∂v
∂y
¸
= 0 (1.109c)
where, in terms of possibly more familiar shallow water variables, φ = g
η and c
2
= g
H,
where φ is the kinematic pressure, c will be a wave speed, η is the free surface height, H
is the reference depth of the ﬂuid and g
is the reduced gravity.
After some manipulation (described more fully in section ??) we may obtain, without
additional approximation, a single equation for v, namely
1
c
2
∂
3
v
∂t
3
+
f
2
c
2
∂v
∂t
−
∂
∂t
∇
2
v −β
∂v
∂x
= 0. (1.110)
In this equation the Coriolis parameter is given by the βplane expression f = f
0
+ βy;
thus, the equation has a nonconstant coefﬁcient, entailing considerable algebraic difﬁ
culties. We will address some of these difﬁculties in chapter ??, but for now we take a
simpler approach: we assume that f is constant except where differentiated, an approx
imation that is reasonable in midlatitudes provided we are concerned with sufﬁciently
small variations in latitude. Equation (3.110) then has constant coefﬁcients and we may
look for plane wave solutions of the form v = ` v exp[i(k · x −ωt)], whence
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
−(k
2
+l
2
) −
βk
ω
= 0. (1.111a)
32 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Rossby waves
l
k
k
O
C =
−β
2ω
, 0
C
k
c
R
R =
β
2ω
2
+
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
1/2
≈
β
2ω
2
−
f
2
0
c
2
1/2
·
k
c
=
−β
2ω
+R ≈ −
ωf
2
0
βc
2
l
k
k
O
C
R
R =
β
2ω
2
+
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
1/2
≈
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
1/2
·
C =
−β
2ω
, 0
k
c
=
−β
2ω
+R ≈ R
Gravity waves
Fig. 1.11 Wave propagation diagrams for Rossbygravity waves, obtained using
(3.111). The top ﬁgure shows the diagram in the low frequency, Rossby wave limit,
and the bottom ﬁgure shows the high frequency, gravity wave limit. In each case the
the locus of wavenumbers for a given frequency is a circle centered at C = (−β/2ω, 0)
with a radius R given by (3.117), but the approximate expressions diﬀer signiﬁcantly
at high and low frequency.
1.7 Rossbygravity Waves: an Introduction 33
Gravity waves
l = 0
l = 1
l = 2
ï
Wavenumber, kc/f
0
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
,
ω
/
f
0
Planetary waves, l = 0, 1, 2
Fig. 1.12 Dispersion relation for Rossbygravity waves, obtained from (3.123) with
β = 0.2 for three values of l. There a frequency gap between the Rossby or planetary
waves and the gravity waves. For the stratiﬁed midlatitude atmosphere or ocean the
frequency gap is in fact much larger.
or, written differently,
k +
β
2ω
¸
2
+l
2
=
β
2ω
¸
2
+
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
. (1.111b)
This equation may be compared to (3.100): noting that k
2
d
= f
2
0
/g
H = f
2
0
/c
2
, the two
equations are identical except for the appearance of a term involving the frequency on
the righthand side in (3.117). The wave propagation diagram is illustrated in Fig. ??.
The wave vectors a a given frequency all lie on a circle centered at (−β/2ω, 0) and with
radius r given by
R =
¸
β
2ω
¸
2
+
ω
2
−f
2
0
c
2
1/2
, (1.112)
and the radius must be positive in order for the waves to exist. The wave propagation
diagram is illustrated in Fig. 3.11. In the low frequency case the diagram is essentially
the same as that shown in Fig. 3.8, but is quantitatively signiﬁcantly different in the high
frequency case. These limiting cases are discussed further in section 3.7.1 below.
To plot the full dispersion relation it is useful to nondimensionalize using the follow
ing scales for time (T), distance (L) and velocity (U)
T = f
−1
0
, L = L
d
= k
−1
d
= c/f
0
, U = L/T = c, (1.113a,b)
34 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
so that, denoting nondimensional quantities with a hat,
ω= ωf
0
, (k, l) = (
k,
l)k
d
, β =
β
f
2
0
c
=
β
f
0
L
d
=
βf
0
k
d
. (1.114)
The dispersion relation (3.111) may then be written as
ω
2
−1 −(
k
2
+
l
2
) −
β
k
ω
= 0 (1.115)
This is a cubic equation in ω, as might be expected given the governing equations
(3.109). We may expect that two of the roots correspond to gravity waves and the third
to Rossby waves. The only parameter in the dispersion relation is
β = βc/f
2
0
= βL
d
/f
0
.
In the atmosphere a representative value for L
d
is 1000 km, whence
β = 0.1. In the
ocean L
d
∼ 100km, whence
β = 0.01. If we allow ourselves to consider ‘external’ Rossby
waves (which are of some oceanographic relevance) then c =
gH = 200ms
−1
and
L
d
= 2000km, whence
β = 0.2.
To actually obtain a solution we regard the equation as a quadratic in k and solve in
terms of the frequency, giving
k = −
β
2 ω
±
1
2
¸
β
2
ω
2
+4( ω
2
−
l
2
−1)
1/2
. (1.116)
The solutions are plotted in Fig. 3.12, with
β = 0.2, and we see that the waves fall into
two groups, labelled gravity waves and planetary waves in the ﬁgure. The gap between
the two groups of waves is in fact far larger if a smaller (and generally more relevant)
value of
β is used. To interpret all this let us consider some limiting cases.
1.7.1 Wave properties
We now consider a few special cases of the dispersion relation.
(i) Constant Coriolis parameter
If β = 0 then the dispersion relation becomes
ω
¸
ω
2
−f
2
0
−(k
2
+l
2
)c
2
¸
= 0, (1.117)
with the roots ω = 0 and ω
2
= f
2
0
+ c
2
(k
2
+ l
2
). The root ω = 0 corresponds to
geostrophic motion (and, since β = 0, Rossby waves are absent), with the other
root corresponding to Poincaré waves, considered at length in chapter ??, for which
ω
2
> f
2
0
.
(ii) High frequency waves
If we take the limit of ωf
0
then (3.111a) gives
ω
2
c
2
−(k
2
+l
2
) −
βk
ω
= 0. (1.118)
To be physically realistic we should also now eliminate the β term, because if ωf
0
then, from geometric considerations on a sphere, k
2
βk/ω. Thus, the dispersion
relation is simply ω
2
= c
2
(k
2
+l
2
). These waves are just gravity waves uninﬂuenced
by rotation, and are a special case of Poincaré waves.
1.7 Rossbygravity Waves: an Introduction 35
RossbyGravity Waves
• Generically speaking, Rossbygravity waves are waves that arise under the com
bined effects of a potential vorticity gradient and stratiﬁcation. The simplest set
ting in which they occur is in the linearized shallow water equations which may be
written as a single equation for v, namely
1
c
2
∂
3
v
∂t
3
+
f
2
c
2
∂v
∂t
−
∂
∂t
∇
2
v −β
∂v
∂x
= 0. (RG.1)
• If we take both f and β to be constants then the equation above admits of plane
wave solutions with dispersion relation
ω
2
−
βkc
2
ω
= f
2
0
+c
2
(k
2
+l
2
). (RG.2)
• In Earth’s atmosphere and ocean is common for there to be a frequency separation
between the two classes of solution. To a good approximation, high frequency,
gravity waves then satisfy
ω
2
= f
2
0
+c
2
(k
2
+l
2
), (RG.3)
and low frequency, Rossby waves satisfy
ω=
−βkc
2
f
2
0
+c
2
(k
2
+l
2
)
=
−βk
k
2
d
+k
2
+l
2
(RG.4)
where k
2
d
= f
2
0
/c
2
.
• Rossbygravity waves also exist in the stratiﬁed equations. Solutions may be found
be decomposing the vertical structure into a series of orthogonal modes, and a
sequence of shallow water equations for each mode results, with a different c for
each mode. Solutions may also be found if f is allowed to vary in (RG.1), at the
price algebraic complexity, as discussed in chapter ??.
(iii) Low frequency waves
Consider the limit of ωf
0
. The dispersion relation reduces to
ω=
−βk
k
2
+l
2
+k
2
d
. (1.119)
This is just the dispersion relation for quasigeostrophic waves as previously ob
tained — see (3.59) or (3.85) In this limit, the requirement that the radius of the
circle be positive becomes
ω
2
<
β
2
4k
2
d
. (1.120)
That is to say, the Rossby waves have a maximum frequency, and directly from
36 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
Fig. 1.13 The locus of points on
planetarygeostrophic Rossby waves.
Waves of a given frequency all have the
same xwavenumber, given by xxx
l
k
O
k
1
k
2
k
3
Locus of wavenumbers of
given frequency ω
k =
−ωf
2
0
c
2
β
(3.120) this occurs when k = k
d
and l = 0.
The frequency gap
The maximum frequency of Rossby waves is usually much less than the frequency of
the Poincaré waves: the lowest frequency of the Poincare waves is f
0
and the highest
frequency of the Rossby waves is β/2k
d
. Thus,
Low gravity wave frequency
High Rossby wave frequency
=
f
0
β/2k
d
=
f
2
0
2βc
. (1.121)
If f
0
= 10
−4
s
−1
, β = 10
−11
m
−1
s
−1
and k
d
= 1/100km
−1
(a representative oceanic
baroclinic deformation radius) then f
0
/(β/2k
d
) = 200. If L
d
= 1000km (an atmospheric
baroclinic radius) then the ratio is 20. If use a barotropic deformation radius of L
d
=
2000km then the ratio is 10. Evidently, for most midlatitude applications there is a large
gap between the Rossby wave frequency and the gravity wave frequency.
Because of this frequency gap, to a good approximation Fig. 3.12 may be obtained by
separately plotting (3.117) for the gravity waves, and (3.120) for the Rossby or planetary
waves. The differences between these and the exact results become smaller as
β gets
smaller, and are less than the thickness of a line on the plot shown.
1.7.2 Planetary geostrophic Rossby waves
A good approximation for the largescale ocean circulation involves ignoring the time
derivatives and nonlinear terms in the momentum equation, allowing evolution only to
occur in the thermodynamic equation. This is the planetarygeostrophic approximation,
introduced in section ?? ??, and it is interesting to see to what extent that system sup
ports Rossby waves.
8
It is easiest just to begin with the linear shallow water equations
1.7 Rossbygravity Waves: an Introduction 37
themselves, and omitting time derivatives in the momentum equation gives
−f v = −
∂φ
∂x
, f u = −
∂φ
∂y
, (1.122a,b)
∂φ
∂t
+c
2
∂u
∂x
+
∂v
∂y
¸
= 0. (1.122c)
From these equations we straightforwardly obtain
∂φ
∂t
−
c
2
β
f
2
∂φ
∂x
= 0. (1.123)
Again we will treat both f and β as constants so that we may look for solutions in the
form φ =
`
φexp[i(k · x −ωt)]. The ensuing dispersion relation is
ω= −
c
2
β
f
2
0
k = −
βk
k
2
d
(1.124)
which is a limiting case of (3.120) with k
2
, l
2
k
2
d
. The waves are a form of Rossby
waves with phase and group speeds given by
c
p
= −
c
2
β
f
2
0
, c
x
g
= −
c
2
β
f
2
0
. (1.125)
That is, the waves are nondispersive and propagate westward. Eq. (3.123) has the
general solution φ = G(x + βc
2
/f
2
t), where G is any function, so an initial disturbance
will just propagate westward at a speed given by (3.125), without any change in form.
Note ﬁnally that the locus of wavenumbers in k–l space is no longer a circle, as it
is for the usual Rossby waves. Rather, since the frequency does not depend on the y
wavenumber, the locus is a straight line, parallel to the yaxis, as in Fig. 3.13. Waves of a
given frequency all have the same xwavenumber, given by k = −ωf
2
0
/(c
2
β) = −ωk
2
d
/β,
as shown in Fig. 3.13.
Physical mechanism
Because the waves are a form of Rossby wave their physical mechanism is related to
that discussed in section 3.4.2, but with an important difference: relative vorticity is no
longer important, but the ﬂow divergence is. Thus, consider ﬂow round a region of high
pressure, as illustrated in Fig. 3.14. If the pressure is circularly symmetric as shown, the
ﬂow to the south of H in the lefthand sketch, and to the south of L in the righthand
sketch, is larger than that to the north. Hence, in the left sketch the ﬂow converges at
W and diverges at E, and the ﬂow pattern moves westward. In the ﬂow depicted in the
right sketch the low pressure propagates westward in a similar fashion.
38 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
H L W E W E
convergence
at W
divergence
at E
divergence
at W
convergence
at E
N
S
W E
Fig. 1.14 The westward propagation of planetarygeostrophic Rossby waves. The cir
cular lines are isobars centered around high and low pressure centres. Because of the
variation of the Coriolis force, the mass ﬂux between two isobars is greater to the
south of a pressure center than it is to the north. Hence, in the lefthand sketch there
is convergence to the west of the high pressure and the pattern propagates westward.
Similarly, if the pressure centre is a low, as in the righthand sketch, there is diver
gence to the west of the pressure centre and the pattern still propagates westward.
1.8
THE GROUP VELOCITY PROPERTY
In the last section of this chapter we return to a more general discussion of group velocity.
Our goal is to show that the group velocity arises in fairly general ways, not just from
methods stemming from Fourier analysis or from ray theory. In a purely logical sense this
discussion does follow most naturally from the end of the section on ray theory (section
3.3), but for most humans it is helpful to have had a concrete introduction to at least one
nontrivial formof waves before considering more abstract material. We ﬁrst give a simple
and direct derivation of group velocity that valid in the simple but important special case
of a homogeneous medium.,
9
Then, in section 3.8, we give a rather general derivation
of the group velocity property, namely that conserved quantities that are quadratic in the
wave amplitude — quantities known as wave activities — are transported at the group
velocity.
1.8.1 Group velocity in homogeneous media
Consider,
10
waves propagating in a homogeneous medium in which the wave equation
is a polynomial of the general form
L(ψ) = Λ
∂
∂t
,
∂
∂x
¸
ψ(x, t) = 0. (1.126)
where Λ is a polynomial operator in the space and time derivatives. For algebraic sim
plicity we again restrict attention to waves in one dimension, and a simple example is
L(ψ) = ∂(∂
xx
ψ)/∂t + β∂ψ/∂x or Λ = ∂(∂
xx
)/∂t + β∂/∂x. We will seek a solution of the
form [c.f., (3.4)]
ψ(x, t) = A(x, t) e
iθ(x,t)
, (1.127)
1.8
The Group Velocity Property 39
where θ is the phase of the disturbance and A(x, t) is the slowly varying amplitude, so
that the solution has the form of a wave packet. The phase is such that k = ∂θ/∂x
and ω = −∂θ/∂t , and the slowly varying nature of the envelope A(x, t) is formalized by
demanding that
1
A
∂A
∂x
k,
1
A
∂A
∂t
ω, (1.128)
The space and time derivatives of ψ are then given by
∂ψ
∂x
=
∂A
∂x
+iA
∂θ
∂x
¸
e
iθ
=
∂A
∂x
+iAk
¸
e
iθ
, (1.129a)
∂ψ
∂t
=
∂A
∂t
+iA
∂θ
∂t
¸
e
iθ
=
∂A
∂t
−iAω
¸
e
iθ
, (1.129b)
so that the wave equation becomes
Λψ = Λ
∂
∂t
−iω,
∂
∂x
+ik
¸
A = 0. (1.130)
Noting that the space and time derivative of A are small compared to k and ω we
expand the polynomial in a Taylor series about (ω, k) to obtain
Λ(−iω, ik)A+
∂Λ
∂(−iω)
∂A
∂t
+
∂Λ
∂(ik)
∂A
∂x
= 0. (1.131)
The ﬁrst terms is nothing but the linear dispersion relation; that is Λ(−iω, ik)A = 0 is the
dispersion relation for plane waves. Taking this to be satisﬁed, (3.131) gives
∂A
∂t
−
∂Λ/∂k
∂Λ/∂ω
∂A
∂x
=
∂A
∂t
+
∂ω
∂k
∂A
∂x
= 0. (1.132)
That is, the envelope moves at the group velocity ∂ω/∂k.
1.8.2
Group velocity property: a general derivation
In our discussion of Rossby waves in section 3.6 in (3.99) we showed that the energy of
the waves is conserved in the sense that
∂E
∂t
+∇ · F = 0, (1.133)
where E is the energy density of the waves and F is its ﬂux. In (3.99) we further showed
that, when averaged over a wavelength and a period, the average ﬂux was related to the
energy by F = c
g
E. This property is called the group velocity property and it is a very
general property, not restricted to Rossby waves or even to energy. Rather, it is a property
of almost any conserved quantity that is quadratic in the wave amplitude, which is he
deﬁning property of a wave activity, and we now demonstrate this in a rather general
way.
11
It is a useful property, because if we can use observations to deduce c
g
then we
can determine how wave activity density propagates.
Our derivation holds generally for waves and wave activities that satisfy the following
three assumptions.
40 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
(i) The wave activity, A, and ﬂux, F, obey the general conservation relation
∂A
∂t
+∇ · F = 0. (1.134)
(ii) Both the wave activity and the ﬂux are quadratic functions of the wave amplitude.
(iii) The waves themselves are of the general form
ψ = ` ψe
iθ(x,t)
+c.c., θ = k · x −ωt, ω= ω(k), (1.135a,b,c)
where (3.135c) is the dispersion relation, and ψ is any wave ﬁeld. We will carry out
the derivation in case in which ` ψ is a constant, but the derivation may be extended
to the case in which it varies slowly over a wavelength.
Given assumption (ii), the wave activity must have the general form
A = b +ae
2i(k·x−ωt)
+a
∗
e
−2i(k·x−ωt)
, (1.136a)
where the asterisk,
∗
, denotes complex conjugacy, and b is a real constant and a is a
complex constant. For example, suppose that A = ψ
2
and ψ = c e
i(k·x−ωt)
+c
∗
e
−i(k·x−ωt)
,
then we ﬁnd that (3.136a) is satisﬁed with a = c
2
and b = 2cc
∗
. Similarly, the ﬂux has
the general form
F = g +f e
2i(k·x−ωt)
+f
∗
e
−2i(k·x−ωt)
. (1.136b)
where g is a real constant vector and f is a complex constant vector. The mean activity
and mean ﬂux are obtained by averaging over a cycle; the oscillating terms vanish on
integration and therefore the wave activity and ﬂux are given by
A = b, F = g, (1.137)
where the overbar denotes the mean.
Now formally consider a wave with a slightly different phase, θ + i δθ, where δθ is
small compared with θ. Thus, we formally replace k by k+i δk and ω by ω+i δω where,
to satisfy the dispersion relation, we have
ω+i δω= ω(k +i δk) ≈ ω(k) +i δk ·
∂ω
∂k
, (1.138)
and therefore
δω= δk ·
∂ω
∂k
= δk · c
g
, (1.139)
where c
g
≡ ∂ω/∂k is the group velocity.
The new wave has the general form
ψ
= ( ` ψ+δ ` ψ) e
i(k·x−ωt)
e
−δk·x+δωt
+c.c., (1.140)
and, analogously to (3.136), the associated wave activity and ﬂux have the forms:
A
=
¸
b +δb +(a +δa) e
2i(k·x−ωt)
+(a
∗
+δa
∗
) e
−2i(k·x−ωt)
¸
e
−2δk·x+2δωt
(1.141a)
F
=
¸
g +δg +(f +δf ) e
2i(k·x−ωt)
+(f
∗
+δf
∗
) e
−2i(k·x−ωt)
¸
e
−2δk·x+2δωt
, (1.141b)
1.8
The Group Velocity Property 41
where the δ quantities are small. If we now demand that A
and F
satisfy assumption
(i), then substituting (3.141) into (3.134) gives, after a little algebra,
(g +δg) · δk = (b +δb)δω (1.142)
and therefore at ﬁrst order in δ quantities, g · δk = bδω. Using (3.139) and (3.137) we
obtain
c
g
=
g
b
=
F
A
, (1.143)
and using this the conservation law, (3.134), becomes
∂A
∂t
+∇ · (c
g
A) = 0. (1.144)
Thus, for waves satisfying our three assumptions, the ﬂux velocity — that is, the propa
gation velocity of the wave activity — is equal to the group velocity.
1.8.3 Group velocity property for Rossby waves
[This subsection may be shifted to a later chapter after we have discussed wave activity
more, and in particular Eliassen–Palm ﬂuxes.]
We now show explicitly that the wave activity for Rossby waves satisﬁes the group
velocity property. The Boussinesq quasigeostrophic equation on the βplane, linearized
around a uniform zonal ﬂow and with constant static stability, is
∂q
∂t
+u
∂q
∂x
+v
∂q
∂y
= 0, (1.145)
where q
= [∇
2
+(f
2
0
/N
2
)∂
2
/∂z
2
]ψ
and, if u is constant, ∂q/∂y = β. Thus we have
∂
∂t
+u
∂
∂x
¸
¸
∇
2
ψ
+
∂
∂z
f
2
0
N
2
∂ψ
∂z
¸
+β
∂ψ
∂x
= 0. (1.146)
Seeking solutions of the form
ψ
= Re ` ψe
i(kx+ly+mz−ωt)
, (1.147)
we ﬁnd the dispersion relation,
ω= uk −
βk
κ
2
. (1.148)
where κ
2
= (k
2
+l
2
+m
2
f
2
0
/N
2
), and the group velocity components:
c
y
g
=
2βkl
κ
4
, c
z
g
=
2βkmf
2
0
/N
2
κ
4
. (1.149)
Also, if u
= Re ` uexp[i(kx +ly +mz −ωt)], and similarly for the other ﬁelds, then
` u = −Re il ` ψ, ` v = Re ik ` ψ,
`
b = Reimf
0
` ψ, ` q = −Reκ
2
` ψ,
(1.150)
42 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
The wave activity density is then
A=
1
2
q
2
β
=
κ
4
4β
 ` ψ
2
, (1.151)
where the additional factor of 2 in the denominator arises from the averaging. Using
(3.150) the EP ﬂux, (??), is
F
y
= −u
v
=
1
2
kl ` ψ
2
, F
z
=
f
0
N
2
v
b
=
f
2
0
2N
2
km ` ψ
2
.
(1.152)
Using (3.149), (3.151) and (3.152) we obtain
F = (F
y
, F
z
) = c
g
A . (1.153)
If the properties of the medium are slowly varying, so that a (spatially varying) group
velocity can still be deﬁned, then this is a useful expression to estimate how the wave
activity propagates in the atmosphere and in numerical simulations.
Notes
1 For a review of waves and group velocity, see Lighthill (1965). Throughout this chapter we
also draw on unpublished lecture notes by D. Chapman and P. MalanotteRizzoli based on a
lecture course by M. Hendershott (Chapman et al. 1989).
2 See, for example, the book Nonlinear Waves by G. B. Whitham.
3 Another useful reference for ray theory is Lighthill (1978).
4 Rossby waves were probably ﬁrst discovered in a theoretical context by ??. He considered
the linear shallow water equations on a sphere, expanding the solution in powers of the sine
of latitude, so obtaining both long gravity waves and Rossby waves. However, the discovery
did not garner very much attention in the meteorological or oceanographic community until
the discovery was reprised by Rossby (1939). Rossby used the betaplane approximation in
Cartesian coordinates, and the simplicity of the presentation along with the meteorological
context now attracted signiﬁcant notice.
5 This nonDoppler eﬀect also arises quite generally, even in models in height coordinates. See
White (1977) and problem ??.5.
6 See Chapman & Lindzen (1970).
7 Following LonguetHiggins (1964).
8 The ensuing waves seem to have been ﬁrst noted by ?.
9 Following Pedlosky (2003).
10 Following Pedlosky (2003).
11 The formof this derivation was originally given by Hayes (1977) in the context of wave energy.
See Vanneste & Shepherd (1998) for extensions.
Further reading
Majda, A. J., 2003. Introduction to PDEs and Waves for the Atmosphere and Ocean.
Provides a compact, somewhat mathematical introduction to various equation sets and their
properties, including quasigeostrophy.
Notes and Problems 43
Problems
1.1 Consider the ﬂatbottomed shallow water potential vorticity equation in the form
D
Dt
ζ +f
h
= 0 (P1.1)
(a) Suppose that deviations of the height ﬁeld are small compared to the mean height ﬁeld,
and that the Rossby number is small (so ζ f ). Further consider ﬂow on a βplane such
that f = f
0
+βy where βy f
0
. Show that the evolution equation becomes
D
Dt
ζ +βy −
f
0
η
H
¸
= 0 (P1.2)
where h = H + η and η H. Using geostrophic balance in the form f
0
u = −g∂η/∂y,
f
0
v = g∂η/∂x, obtain an expression for ζ in terms of η.
(b) Linearize (P3.2) about a state of rest, and show that the resulting system supports two
dimensional Rossby waves that are similar to those of the usual twodimensional barotropic
system. Discuss the limits in which the wavelength is much shorter or much longer than
the deformation radius.
(c) Linearize (P3.2) about a geostrophically balanced state that is translating uniformly east
wards. Note that this means that:
u = U +u
η = η(y) +η
,
where η(y) is in geostrophic balance with U. Obtain an expression for the form of η(y).
(d) Obtain the dispersion relation for Rossby waves in this system. Show that their speed
is diﬀerent from that obtained by adding a constant U to the speed of Rossby waves in
part (b), and discuss why this should be so. (That is, why is the problem not Galilean
invariant?)
1.2 Obtain solutions to the twolayer Rossby wave problem by seeking solutions of the form
ψ
1
= Re ` ψ
1
e
i(kxx+ky y−ωt)
, ψ
2
= Re ` ψ
2
e
i(kxx+ky y−ωt)
. (P1.3)
Substitute (P3.3) directly into (3.62) to obtain the dispersion relation, and show that the ensu
ing two roots correspond to the baroclinic and barotropic modes.
1.3 (Not diﬃcult, but messy.) Obtain the vertical normal modes and the dispersion relationship
of the twolayer quasigeostrophic problem with a free surface, for which the equations of
motion linearized about a state of rest are
∂
∂t
¸
∇
2
ψ
1
+F
1
(ψ
2
−ψ
1
)
¸
+β
∂ψ
1
∂x
= 0 (P1.4a)
∂
∂t
¸
∇
2
ψ
2
+F
2
(ψ
1
−ψ
2
) −F
ext
ψ
1
¸
+β
∂ψ
2
∂x
= 0, (P1.4b)
where F
ext
= f
0
/(gH
2
).
1.4 Given the baroclinic dispersion relation, ω = −βk
x
/(k
x
2
+ k
2
d
), for what value of k
x
is the
xcomponent of the group velocity the largest (i.e., the most positive), and what is the corre
sponding value of the group velocity?
1.5 Show that the nonDoppler eﬀect arises using geometric height as the vertical coordinate,
using the modiﬁed quasigeostrophic set of White (1977). In particular, obtain the disper
sion relation for stratiﬁed quasigeostrophic ﬂow with a resting basic state. Then obtain the
dispersion relation for the equations linearized about a uniformly translating state, paying
attention to the lower boundary condition, and note the conditions under which the waves are
stationary. Discuss.
44 Chapter 1. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
1.6 (a) Obtain the dispersion relationship for Rossby waves in the singlelayer quasigeostrophic
potential vorticity equation with linear drag.
(b) Obtain the dispersion relation for Rossby waves in the linearized twolayer potential vor
ticity equation with linear drag in the lowest layer.
(c) Obtain the dispersion relation for Rossby waves in the continuously stratiﬁed quasi
geostrophic equations, with the eﬀects of linear drag appearing in the thermodynamic
equation for the lower boundary condition. That is, the boundary condition at z = 0 is
∂
t
(∂
z
ψ) +N
2
w = 0 where w = αζ with α being a constant. You may make the Boussinesq
approximation and assume N
2
is constant if you like.
98 Chapter 4. Wave Fundamentals and Rossby Waves
References
Chapman, D. C., MalanotteRizzoli, P. & Hendershott, M., 1989. Wave motions in the ocean.
Unpublished. Based on lectures by Myrl Hendershott.
Chapman, S. & Lindzen, R. S., 1970. Atmospheric Tides. Gordon and Breach, 200 pp.
Gill, A. E., 1982. Atmosphere–Ocean Dynamics. Academic Press, 662 pp.
Hayes, M., 1977. A note on group velocity. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. A, 354, 533–535.
Lighthill, J., 1978. Waves in Fluids. Cambridge University Press, 504 pp.
Lighthill, M. J., 1965. Group velocity. J. Inst. Math. Appl., 1, 1–28.
LonguetHiggins, M. S., 1964. Planetary waves on a rotating sphere, I. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond.
A, 279, 446–473.
Majda, A. J., 2003. Introduction to PDEs and Waves for the Atmosphere and Ocean. Amer
ican Mathematical Society, 234 pp.
Munk, W. H., 1981. Internal waves and smallscale processes. In B. A. Warren & C. Wunsch,
Eds., Evolution of Physical Oceanography, pp. 264–291. The MIT Press.
Pedlosky, J., 2003. Waves in the Ocean and Atmosphere: Introduction to Wave Dynamics.
SpringerVerlag, 260 pp.
Rossby, C.G., 1939. Relations between variation in the intesity of the zonal circulation and
the displacements of the semipermanent centers of action. J. Marine Res., 2, 38–55.
Vanneste, J. & Shepherd, T. G., 1998. On the groupvelocity property for waveactivity
conservation laws. J. Atmos. Sci., 55, 1063–1068.
White, A. A., 1977. Modiﬁed quasigeostrophic equations using geometric height as verti
cal coordinate. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 103, 383–396.
99
Index
Bold face denotes a primary entry or an extended discussion.
Dispersion relation, 4, 6
Rossby waves, 17
Energy ﬂux, 24
Rossby waves, 24–26
Frequency, 4
Group velocity, 7–12
Group velocity property, 38–42
Kinematics
of waves, 4
Phase speed, 5, 5–6
Phase velocity, 5
Plane waves, 4
Ray Theory, 15
Ray theory, 13
Rays, 15
Rossby waves, 16–31
barotropic, 16
continuously stratiﬁed, 21
dispersion relation, 17
energy ﬂux, 24–26
ﬁnite deformation radius, 18
group velocity property, 41
mechanism of, 18
planetary geostrophic, 36
reﬂection, 26
two layers, 19
Stationary phase, 12
Wave packet, 10
Wavelength, 5
Waves, 4
barotropic Rossby, 16
frequency, 4
group velocity property, 38
kinematics, 4
Rossby, 16
Rossby dispersion relation, 17
Rossby wave mechanism, 18
Rossby, continuously stratiﬁed, 21
Rossby, singlelayer, 16
Rossby, twolayer, 19
wavevector, 4
Wavevector, 4
100
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