Nonlinear Waves in Zonostrophic Turbulence

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The Charney-Hasegawa-Mima equation applies to a broad variety of hydrodynamic systems ranging from the large-scale planetary circulations to small-scale processes in magnetically confined plasma. This equation harbors flow regimes that have not yet been fully understood. One of those is the recently discovered regime of zonostrophic turbulence emerging in the case of small-scale forced, barotropic two-dimensional turbulence on the surface of a rotating sphere or in its β-plane approximation. The commingling of strong nonlinearity, strong anisotropy and Rossby waves underlying this regime is highlighted by the emergence of stable systems of alternating zonal jets and a new class of nonlinear waves, or zonons. This Letter elucidates the physics of the zonons and their relation to the large-scale coherent structures.

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Physical Review Letters, v. 101, issue 17, art. 178501