Line vortices and the vacillation of Langmuir circulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Electronic versions



Three types of breakdown of Langmuir circulation (Lc) are observed, two of which are represented in largeeddy
simulation (LES) models, but the third, vacillation, is not. The stability of Lc can be examined by
representing the downwind-aligned vortices by line vortices that are subjected to perturbations. Earlier
conclusions relating to stability in homogeneous water of infinite depth are found to be in error because no
stationary unperturbed state exists. The motion of vortices is examined and shown to be consistent with an
explanation of Lc devised by Csanady. Motion of line vortices in water of limited depth or bounded below by a
thermocline is examined. The motion replicates some of the features of vacillation observed by Smith in deep
water bounded by a thermocline, including its periodicity and fluctuations in the formation of bubble bands.
Vortices describe closed orbits within the Langmuir cells. Particle motions in the vacillating Lc pattern exhibit
trapping close to the line vortices or near the cell boundaries. Vacillation appears not to have been observed in
water of limited depth. Here, the vacillation period is predicted to be longer than the deep-water equivalent
and may be too long for vacillations to be detected
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2123-2141
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number7
Early online date19 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2016

Total downloads

No data available
View graph of relations