Are transitions abrupt in Stommel’s thermohaline box model?

YURI N. SKIBA, S. N. BULGAKOV

Abstract

A series of laboratory experiments with forced temperature and salinity were conducted using an apparatus (channel between pole and equator boxes) designed to duplicate the conceptual Stommel’s model of thermohaline circulation. The flow patterns are discussed depending on modelling parameters (aspect ratio and buoyancy), and specified boundary conditions. Three steady states are found in the control space of the modelling parameters: two-layer thermal mode (T2), two-layer saline mode (S2), and three-layer hybrid state (H3). The thermohaline circulation exhibits both, smooth and abrupt transitions, depending on the rate of mixing. Free convection and double diffusion experiments with limited mixing show smooth transitions. Abrupt transitions were only found in the complete mixing experiments when two boxes were stirred by mixers.

Keywords

Thermoline circulation; equilibria;laboratory modelling

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