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Title: Sloping convection : an experimental investigation in a baroclinic annulus with topography
Author: Marshall, Samuel David
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 6628
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis documents a collection of experimental investigations in which a differentially-heated annulus was used to investigate the effects of topography on the atmospheric and oceanic circulation. To this end a number of experiments were devised, each using a different topographic base to study a different aspect of the impact of topography, motivated by the most notable outstanding questions found in a review of the literature, namely exploring the effects of topographic resonance, blocking via partial barriers, and azimuthally differential-heating via thermal topography. First of all, whilst employing sinusoidal wavenumber-3 topography to extend the experimental parameter space of a similar study, namely Read and Risch (2011), a new regime within a region of structural vacillation was encountered. Denoted as the ‘stationary-transition’ regime, it featured periodic oscillations between a dominant stationary wavenumber-3 flow and axisymmetric or chaotic flow. An investigation into topographic resonance followed, keeping the wavenumber-3 base, but with a sloped lid to add a beta effect to the annulus. This acted to increase the occurrence of stationary waves, along with the ‘stationary-transition’ regime, which was discovered to be a near-resonant region where nonlinear topographic resonant instability led to a 23 to 42 ‘day’ oscillatory structure. The base was then replaced with an isolated ridge, forming a partial barrier to study the difference between blocked and unblocked flow. The topography was found to impact the circulation at a level much higher than its own peak, causing a unique flow structure when the drifting flow and the topography interacted in the form of an ‘interference’ regime at low Taylor Numbers, as well as forming an erratic ‘irregular’ regime at higher Taylor Numbers. Lastly, this isolated ridge was replaced by flat heating elements covering the same azimuthal extent, in order to observe whether thermal topography could be comparable to mechanical topography. These azimuthally-varying heating experiments produced much the same results as the partial barriers study, despite the lack of a physical peak or bottom-trapped waves, suggesting that blocking is independent of these activities. Evidence of resonant wave-triads was noted in all experiments, though the component wavenumbers of the wave-triads and their impact on the flow was found to depend on the topography in question.
Supervisor: Read, Peter L. Sponsor: Science and Technology Facilities Council ; National Environmental Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Atmospheric,Oceanic,and Planetary physics ; Topography ; Baroclinic ; Annulus ; Atmospheric Circulation ; Oceanic Circulation ; Resonance ; Blocking ; Thermal ; Walker Circulation ; Low Frequency Variability ; Wave-Triads ; Intraseasonal Oscillations.