Mixing by Barotropic Instability in a Nonlinear Model Academic Article uri icon


  • A global, nonlinear, equivalent barotropic model is used to study the isentropic mixing of passive tracers by barotropic instability. Basic states are analytical zonal-mean jets representative of the zonal-mean flow in the upper stratosphere, where the observed 4-day wave is thought to be a result of barotropic, and possibly baroclinic, instability. Lagrangian trajectories computed from model winds are used to characterize the mixing by the flow. For profiles with both midlatitude and polar modes, mixing is stronger in midlatitudes than inside the vortex; but there is little exchange of air across the vortex boundary. There is a minimum in the Lyapunov exponents of the flow and the particle dispersion at the jet maximum. For profiles with only polar unstable modes, there is weak mixing inside the vortex, no mixing outside the vortex, and no exchange of air across the vortex boundary. -from Authors

author list (cited authors)

  • Bowman, K. P., & Chen, P.

citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • December 1994