A Lagrangian description of transport associated with a front-eddy interaction: Application to data from the North-Western Mediterranean Sea

Michal Branicki, Ana M Mancho, Stephen R Wiggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We discuss the Lagrangian transport in a time-dependent oceanic system involving a Lagrangian barrier associated with a salinity front which interacts intermittently with a set of Lagrangian eddies — ‘leaky’ coherent structures that entrain and detrain fluid as they move. A theoretical framework, rooted in the dynamical systems theory, is developed in order to describe and analyse this situation. We show that such an analysis can be successfully applied to a realistic ocean model. Here, we use the output of the numerical ocean model DieCAST from Dietrich et al. (2004) [17] and Fernández et al. (2005) [18] studied earlier in Mancho et al. (2008) [15] where a Lagrangian barrier associated with the North Balearic Front in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea was identified. The numerical model provides an Eulerian view of the flow and we employ the dynamical systems approach to identify relevant hyperbolic trajectories and their stable and unstable manifolds. These manifolds are used to understand the Lagrangian geometry of the evolving front–eddy system. Transport in this system is effected by the turnstile mechanism whose spatio-temporal geometry reveals intermittent pathways along which transport occurs. Particular attention is paid to the ‘Lagrangian’ interactions between the front and the eddies, and to transport implications associated with the transition between the one-eddy and two-eddy situation. The analysis of this ‘Lagrangian’ transition is aided by a local kinematic model that provides insight into the nature of the change in hyperbolic trajectories and their stable and unstable manifolds associated with the ‘birth’ and ‘death’ of leaky Lagrangian eddies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-304
Number of pages23
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Volume240
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011

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