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Proc Math Phys Eng Sci. 2018 Feb;474(2210):20170883. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2017.0883. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Stability of barotropic vortex strip on a rotating sphere.

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Department of Mathematics, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung 25457, Korea.
Department of Mathematics, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.
Department of Mathematics, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 06974, Korea.


We study the stability of a barotropic vortex strip on a rotating sphere, as a simple model of jet streams. The flow is approximated by a piecewise-continuous vorticity distribution by zonal bands of uniform vorticity. The linear stability analysis shows that the vortex strip becomes stable as the strip widens or the rotation speed increases. When the vorticity constants in the upper and the lower regions of the vortex strip have the same positive value, the inner flow region of the vortex strip becomes the most unstable. However, when the upper and the lower vorticity constants in the polar regions have different signs, a complex pattern of instability is found, depending on the wavenumber of perturbations, and interestingly, a boundary far away from the vortex strip can be unstable. We also compute the nonlinear evolution of the vortex strip on the rotating sphere and compare with the linear stability analysis. When the width of the vortex strip is small, we observe a good agreement in the growth rate of perturbation at an early time, and the eigenvector corresponding to the unstable eigenvalue coincides with the most unstable part of the flow. We demonstrate that a large structure of rolling-up vortex cores appears in the vortex strip after a long-time evolution. Furthermore, the geophysical relevance of the model to jet streams of Jupiter, Saturn and Earth is examined.


barotropic flow; contour dynamics; linear stability; rotating sphere; vortex dynamics

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