Gravity currents in rotating, wedge-shaped, adverse channels

A. J. S. Cuthbertson*, P. Lundberg, P. A. Davies, J. Laanearu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Results are presented from a series of parametric experimental and analytical studies of the behaviour of dense gravity currents along rotating, up-sloping, wedge-shaped channels. High resolution density profile measurements at fixed cross-and along-channel locations reveal the outflowing bottom gravity currents to adjust to quasi-steady, geostrophically-balanced conditions along the channels, with the outflow layer thickness and cross-channel interface slope shown to scale with the inlet Burger number for all experimental conditions tested. A general analytical solution to the classic rotating hydraulics problem has been developed under the assumption of inviscid, zero-potential-vorticity conditions to model dense water flow through a triangular constriction and thus simulate the vee-channel configurations under consideration. Predictions from this zero-PV model are shown to provide good overall quantitative agreement with experimental measurements obtained both under hydraulically-controlled conditions at the channel exit and for subcritical conditions generated along the channel length. Quantitative discrepancies between measurements and analytical predictions are attributed primarily to assumptions and limitations associated with the zero-PV modelling approach adopted, as well as the to the rapid adjustment in outflow characteristics as the channel exit is approached, as characterised by the along-channel variation in densimetric Froude number for the outflows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1273
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number5
Early online date9 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Gravity currents
  • Rotating flows
  • Dense oceanic outflows
  • Topographic control
  • Zero potential vorticity assumption
  • FLOW


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