3 years ago

Thermohaline‐shear instability

Timour Radko

Abstract

This study presents the linear theory of thermohaline‐shear instability, which is realized in oceanic flows that are dynamically and diffusively stable. The framework is based on the unbounded Couette model, which makes it possible to decouple the destabilizing effects of spatially uniform shear from instabilities caused by the presence of inflection points in velocity profiles. The basic state is assumed to be time‐dependent, which reflects the role of internal waves in controlling finescale shear. Linear stability analysis suggests that conditions for thermohaline‐shear instability are met in most ocean regions where temperature and salinity concurrently increase downward. We conclude that thermohaline‐shear instability represents a plausible mechanism for the initiation of active diffusive convection which, in turn, is essential for the formation of thermohaline staircases and maintenance of double‐diffusive interleaving.

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