Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search


Application of the ideas and techniques of classical fluid mechanics to some problems in physical oceanography

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Robin Johnson


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This review makes a case for describing many of the flows observed in our oceans, simply based on the Euler equation, with (piecewise) constant density and with suitable boundary conditions. The analyses start from the Euler and mass conservation equations, expressed in a rotating, spherical coordinate system (but the f-plane and ß-plane approximations are also mentioned); five examples are discussed. For three of them, a suitable non-dimensionalization is introduced, and a single small parameter is identified in each case. These three examples lead straightforwardly and directly to new results for: waves on the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) with a thermocline (in the f-plane); a nonlinear, three-dimensional model for EUC-type flows (in the ß-plane); and a detailed model for large gyres. The other two examples are exact solutions of the complete system: a flow which corresponds to the underlying structure of the Pacific EUC; and a flow based on the necessary requirement to use a non-conservative body force, which produces the type of flow observed in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. (All these examples have been discussed in detail in the references cited.) This review concludes with a few comments on how these solutions can be extended and expanded. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Nonlinear water waves’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Johnson RS

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

Year: 2018

Volume: 376

Issue: 2111

Print publication date: 28/01/2018

Online publication date: 11/12/2017

Acceptance date: 02/06/2017

ISSN (print): 1364-503X

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2962

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2017.0092


    Link to this publication