School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

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We investigate an inequality constraining the energy and potential enstrophy flux spectra in two-layer and multi-layer quasi-geostrophic models. Its physical significance is that it can diagnose whether any given multi-layer model that allows co-existing downscale cascades of energy and potential enstrophy can allow the downscale energy flux to become large enough to yield a mixed energy spectrum where the dominant k−3 scaling is overtaken by a subdominant k−5/3 contribution beyond a transition wavenumber kt situated in the inertial range. The validity of the flux inequality implies that this scaling transition cannot occur within the inertial range, whereas a violation of the flux inequality beyond some wavenumber kt implies the existence of a scaling transition near that wavenumber. This flux inequality holds unconditionally in two-dimensional Navier–Stokes turbulence, however, it is far from obvious that it continues to hold in multi-layer quasi-geostrophic models, because the dissipation rate spectra for energy and potential enstrophy no longer relate in a trivial way, as in two-dimensional Navier–Stokes. We derive the general form of the energy and potential enstrophy dissipation rate spectra for a generalized symmetrically coupled multi-layer model. From this result, we prove that in a symmetrically coupled multi-layer quasi-geostrophic model, where the dissipation terms for each layer consist of the same Fourier-diagonal linear operator applied on the streamfunction field of only the same layer, the flux inequality continues to hold. It follows that a necessary condition to violate the flux inequality is the use of asymmetric dissipation where different operators are used on different layers. We explore dissipation asymmetry further in the context of a two-layer quasi-geostrophic model and derive upper bounds on the asymmetry that will allow the flux inequality to continue to hold. Asymmetry is introduced both via an extrapolated Ekman term, based on a 1980 model by Salmon, and via differential small-scale dissipation. The results given are mathematically rigorous and require no phenomenological assumptions about the inertial range. Sufficient conditions for violating the flux inequality, on the other hand, require phenomenological hypotheses, and will be explored in future work.


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Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena



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Mathematics Commons



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