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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 2
Ocean Sci., 7, 245–255, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-7-245-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ocean Sci., 7, 245–255, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-7-245-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 15 Apr 2011

Research article | 15 Apr 2011

Estimation of friction parameters in gravity currents by data assimilation in a model hierarchy

A. Wirth A. Wirth
  • Université de Grenoble, LEGI/MEOM/CNRS, France

Abstract. This paper is the last in a series of three investigating the friction laws and their parametrisation in idealised gravity currents in a rotating frame. Results on the dynamics of a gravity current (Wirth, 2009) and on the estimation of friction laws by data assimilation (Wirth and Verron, 2008) are combined to estimate the friction parameters and discriminate between friction laws in non-hydrostatic numerical simulations of gravity current dynamics, using data assimilation and a reduced gravity shallow water model.

I demonstrate, that friction parameters and laws in gravity currents can be estimated using data assimilation. The results clearly show that friction follows a linear Rayleigh law for small Reynolds numbers and the estimated value agrees well with the analytical value obtained for non-accelerating Ekman layers. A significant and sudden departure towards a quadratic drag law at an Ekman layer based Reynolds number of around 800 is shown, in agreement with classical laboratory experiments. The drag coefficient obtained compares well to friction values over smooth surfaces. I show that data assimilation can be used to determine friction parameters and discriminate between friction laws and that it is a powerful tool in systematically connecting models within a model hierarchy.

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