Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

DOI

10.1029/2010gl045272

Publication Title

Geophysical Research Letters

Volume

37

Pages

L22607 (5 pages)

Abstract

Shear instability is the dominant mechanism for converting fluid motion to mixing in the stratified ocean and atmosphere. The transition to turbulence has been well characterized in laboratory settings and numerical simulations at moderate Reynolds number-it involves "rolling up", i.e., overturning of the density structure within the cores of the instabilities. In contrast, measurements in an energetic estuarine shear zone reveal that the mixing induced by shear instability at high Reynolds number does not primarily occur by overturning in the cores; rather it results from secondary shear instabilities within the zones of intensified shear separating the cores. This regime is not likely to be observed in the relatively low Reynolds number flows of the laboratory or in direct numerical simulations, but it is likely a common occurrence in the ocean and atmosphere.

Comments

Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

Original Publication Citation

Geyer, W. R., Lavery, A. C., Scully, M. E., & Trowbridge, J. H. (2010). Mixing by shear instability at high Reynolds number. Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L22607. doi:10.1029/2010gl045272

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