Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, 36 Nakhimovsky Ave, 117997 Moscow, Russia
Received: 05 Apr 2016 – Discussion started: 10 May 2016
Abstract. Analytical solutions are found for the problem of instability of a weak geostrophic flow with linear velocity shear accounting for vertical diffusion of buoyancy. The analysis is based on the potential-vorticity equation in a long-wave approximation when the horizontal scale of disturbances is considered much larger than the local baroclinic Rossby radius. It is hypothesized that the solutions found can be applied to describe stable and unstable disturbances of the planetary scale with respect, in particular, to the Arctic Ocean, where weak baroclinic fronts with typical temporal variability periods on the order of several years or more have been observed and the β effect is negligible. Stable (decaying with time) solutions describe disturbances that, in contrast to the Rossby waves, can propagate to both the west and east, depending on the sign of the linear shear of geostrophic velocity. The unstable (growing with time) solutions are applied to explain the formation of large-scale intrusions at baroclinic fronts under the stable–stable thermohaline stratification observed in the upper layer of the Polar Deep Water in the Eurasian Basin. The suggested mechanism of formation of intrusions can be considered a possible alternative to the mechanism of interleaving at the baroclinic fronts due to the differential mixing.
Revised: 04 Oct 2016 – Accepted: 09 Nov 2016 – Published: 02 Dec 2016
Kuzmina, N.: Generation of large-scale intrusions at baroclinic fronts: an analytical consideration with a reference to the Arctic Ocean, Ocean Sci., 12, 1269-1277, doi:10.5194/os-12-1269-2016, 2016.