Energy-Enstrophy Stability of beta-plane Kolmogorov Flow with Drag

Yue-Kin Tsang, Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California, San Diego,

We develop a new nonlinear stability method, the Energy-Enstrophy (EZ) method, that is specialized to two-dimensional hydrodynamics; the method is applied to a beta-plane flow driven by a sinusoidal body force, and retarded by drag with damping time-scale mu^{-1}. The standard energy method shows that the laminar solution is monotonically and globally stable in a certain portion of the (mu,beta)-parameter space. The EZ method proves nonlinear stability in a larger portion of the (mu,beta)-parameter space. And by penalizing high wavenumbers, the EZ method identifies a most strongly amplifying disturbance that is more physically realistic than that delivered by the energy method. Linear instability calculations are used to determine the region of the (mu,beta)-parameter space where the flow is unstable to infinitesimal perturbations. There is only a small gap between the linearly unstable region and the nonlinearly stable region, and full numerical solutions show only small transient amplification in that gap.