Planetary (Rossby) waves and inertia-gravity (Poincaré) waves in a barotropic ocean over a sphere

Nathan Paldor*, Yair De-Leon, Ofer Shamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The construction of approximate Schrödinger eigenvalue equations for planetary (Rossby) waves and for inertia-gravity (Poincaré) waves on an ocean-covered rotating sphere yields highly accurate estimates of the phase speeds and meridional variation of these waves. The results are applicable to fast rotating spheres such as Earth where the speed of barotropic gravity waves is smaller than twice the tangential speed on the equator of the rotating sphere. The implication of these new results is that the phase speed of Rossby waves in a barotropic ocean that covers an Earth-like planet is independent of the speed of gravity waves for sufficiently large zonal wavenumber and (meridional) mode number. For Poincaré waves our results demonstrate that the dispersion relation is linear, (so the waves are non-dispersive and the phase speed is independent of the wavenumber), except when the zonal wavenumber and the (meridional) mode number are both near 1.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 2013


  • geophysical and geological flows
  • shallow water flows
  • waves in rotating fluids


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