Vortices in Sinusoidal Shear, with Applications to Jupiter

Rohith Vilasur Swaminathan, S.M., 2016
Glenn Flierl, Advisor

In this thesis, we have studied the existence of vortex steady states in a sinusoidal background shear flow in a 1.75 layer quasi-geostrophic model. Trying to find vortex structures by integrating the Hamiltonian system has the drawback that the vortices lose enstrophy by filamentation and numerical dissipation, while continuing to de- form and wobble. Adopting the local optimization technique of Hamiltonian Dirac Simulated Annealing overcomes this drawback and allows us to obtain steady/quasi- steady vortices that have roughly the same area as that of the initial vortex. The steady states that we have generated range from elliptical with major axis aligned with the flow in the prograde shear region to triangular at the latitude where pro- grade and adverse shear meet and back to elliptical but with the major axis aligned perpendicular to the shear flow at the center of the adverse shear region. The steady states calculated by the above technique can be used for further analysis and as an initial condition to study the merger of vortices in background shear. This result is directly applicable to the kind of dynamics visible on planets like Jupiter, where vortices residing in zonal shear are a common occurrence.