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Vortex Merger in Oceanic Tripoles

AuthorsRodríguez-Marroyo, Rocío ; Viúdez, Álvaro ; Ruiz, Simón
Numerical analysis/modeling
Issue DateJun-2011
PublisherAmerican Meteorological Society
CitationJournal of Physical Oceanography 41 (6) : 1239-1251 (2011)
AbstractA new type of vortex merger is experimentally reported and numerically investigated. The merging process of two anticyclones under the influence of a cyclone (a three-vortex interaction) was observed in sea surface height (SSH) altimetry maps south of the Canary Islands. This three-vortex interaction is investigated using a process-oriented three-dimensional (3D), Boussinesq, and f-plane numerical model that explicitly conserves potential vorticity (PV) on isopycnals. The initial conditions consist of three static and inertially stable baroclinic vortices: two anticyclones and one cyclone. The vortex cores form a triangle in a configuration similar to that found south of the Canary Islands. The numerical results show, in agreement with SSH observations, that two corotating vortices, sufficiently close to each other and in presence of a third counterrotating vortex, merge, leading to a new elongated vortex, which couples with the counterrotating vortex, forming a dipole. Thus, the merging process occurred south of the Canary Islands is consistent with simplified vortex dynamics (basically PV conservation). The merging process depends on the initial PV density extrema, vertical extent, and the angle spanned by the corotating vortices. It is found that the presence of the third counterrotating vortex importantly affects the critical angle of merger and the processes of axisymmetrization and filamentation associated with the two corotating merging vortices. The torque exerted by the counterrotating vortex on the two corotating vortices delays, but does not prevent, their merger.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011JPO4582.1
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