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Lagrangian motion, coherent structures, and lines of persistent material strain
Samelson, R.M. (2013). Lagrangian motion, coherent structures, and lines of persistent material strain. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 5: 137-163.
In: Annual Review of Marine Science. Annual Reviews: Palo Alto, Calif. ISSN 1941-1405, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    geophysical fluid dynamics, mesoscale dynamics, parcel motion, modeling

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  • Samelson, R.M.

    Lagrangian motion in geophysical fluids may be strongly influenced by coherent structures that support distinct regimes in a given flow. The problems of identifying and demarcating Lagrangian regime boundaries associated with dynamical coherent structures in a given velocity field can be studied using approaches originally developed in the context of the abstract geometric theory of ordinary differential equations. An essential insight is that when coherent structures exist in a flow, Lagrangian regime boundaries may often be indicated as material curves on which the Lagrangian-mean principal-axis strain is large. This insight is the foundation of many numerical techniques for identifying such features in complex observed or numerically simulated ocean flows. The basic theoretical ideas are illustrated with a simple, kinematic traveling-wave model. The corresponding numerical algorithms for identifying candidate Lagrangian regime boundaries and lines of principal Lagrangian strain (also called Lagrangian coherent structures) are divided into parcel and bundle schemes; the latter include the finite-time and finite-size Lyapunov exponent/Lagrangian strain (FTLE/FTLS and FSLE/FSLS) metrics. Some aspects and results of oceanographic studies based on these approaches are reviewed, and the results are discussed in the context of oceanographic observations of dynamical coherent structures.

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