Entrainment in a Dense Current Flowing Down a Rough Sloping Bottom in a Rotating Fluid Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractDense oceanic overflows descend over the rough topography of the continental slope entraining and mixing with surrounding waters. The associated dilution dictates the fate of these currents and thus is of fundamental importance to the formation of deep water masses. The entrainment in a dense current flowing down a sloping bottom in a rotating homogeneous fluid is investigated using laboratory experiments, focusing on the influence of the bottom roughness on the flow dynamics. The roughness is idealized by an array of vertical rigid cylinders and both their spacing and height are varied as well as the inclination of the sloping bottom. The presence of the roughness is generally observed to decelerate the dense current, with a consequent reduction of the Froude number, when compared to the smooth bottom configuration. However, the dilution of the dense current due to mixing with the ambient fluid is enhanced by the roughness elements, especially for low Froude numbers. When the entrainment due to shear instability at the interface between the dense current and the ambient fluid is low, the additional turbulence and mixing arising at the bottom of the dense current due to the roughness elements strongly affects the dilution of the current. Finally, a strong dependence of the entrainment parameter on the Reynolds number is observed.

publication date

  • March 2017