a1 OCIAM, Mathematical Institute, 24–29 St Giles', Oxford, OX1 3LB, UK
We derive equations to describe the flow of multiple superposed layers of inviscid, incompressible fluids with constant densities over prescribed topography in a rotating frame. Motivated by geophysical applications, these equations incorporate the complete Coriolis force. We do not make the widely used ‘traditional approximation’ that omits the contribution to the Coriolis force from the locally horizontal part of the rotation vector. Our derivation is performed by averaging the governing Euler equations over each layer, and from two different forms of Hamilton's variational principle that differ in their treatment of the coupling between layers. The coupling may be included implicitly through the map from Lagrangian particle labels to particle coordinates, or explicitly by adding terms representing the work done on each layer by the pressure exerted by the layers above. The latter approach requires additional terms in the Lagrangian, but extends more easily to many layers. We show that our equations obey the expected conservation laws for energy, momentum and potential vorticity. The conserved momentum and potential vorticity are modified by non-traditional effects. The vertical component of the rotation vector that appears in the potential vorticity for each layer under the traditional approximation is replaced by the component perpendicular to the layer's midsurface. The momentum includes an additional contribution that reflects changes in angular momentum caused by changes in a fluid element's distance from the rotation axis as it is displaced vertically. Again, this effect is absent in the traditional approximation.
(Received May 22 2009)
(Revised December 09 2009)
(Accepted December 09 2009)
(Online publication March 24 2010)