Compressible Quasi-geostrophic Convection without the Anelastic Approximation

Monday, 15 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Michael A Calkins, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, Philippe Marti, University of Colorado -- Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States and Keith A Julien, Univ of Colorado--Boulder, Applied Mathematics, Boulder, CO, United States
Fluid compressibility is known to be an important, non-negligible component of the dynamics of many planetary atmospheres and stellar convection zones, yet imposes severe computational constraints on numerical simulations of the compressible Navier-Stokes equations (NSE). An often employed reduced form of the NSE are the anelastic equations, which maintain fluid compressibility in the form of a depth varying, adiabatic background state onto which the perturbations cannot feed back. We present the linear theory of compressible rotating convection in a local-area, plane layer geometry. An important dimensionless parameter in convection is the ratio of kinematic viscosity to thermal diffusivity, or the Prandtl number, Pr. It is shown that the anelastic approximation cannot capture the linear instability of gases with Prandtl numbers less than approximately 0.5 in the limit of rapid rotation; the time derivative of the density fluctuation appearing in the conservation of mass equation remains important for these cases and cannot be neglected. An alternative compressible, geostrophically balanced equation set has been derived and preliminary results utilizing this new equation set are presented. Notably, this new set of equations satisfies the Proudman-Taylor theorem on small axial scales even for strongly compressible flows, does not require the flow to be nearly adiabatic, and thus allows for feedback onto the background state.