An equilibrium statistical model for the spreading phase of open-ocean convection

Mark T. Dibattista, Andrew J. Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 'most probable state' equilibrium statistical theory for random distributions of hetons in a closed basin is developed here in the context of two-layer quasigeostrophic models for the spreading phase of open-ocean convection. The theory depends only on bulk conserved quantities such as energy, circulation, and the range of values of potential vorticity in each layer. The simplest theory is formulated for a uniform cooling event over the entire basin that triggers a homogeneous random distribution of convective towers. For a small Rossby deformation radius typical for open-ocean convection sites, the most probable states that arise from this theory strongly resemble the saturated baroclinic states of the spreading phase of convection, with a stabilizing barotropic rim current and localized temperature anomaly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6009-6013
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 25 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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