Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Applied Marine Physics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michael G. Brown

Second Committee Member

William M. Drennan

Third Committee Member

Thomas R. Hahn

Fourth Committee Member

Maria J. Olascoaga

Fifth Committee Member

Huseyin Kocak


The Lagrangian dynamics of two-dimensional incompressible fluid flows is considered, with emphasis on transport processes in atmospheric and oceanic flows. The dynamical-systems-based approach is adopted; the Lagrangian motion in such systems is studied with the aid of Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser (KAM) theory, and results relating to stable and unstable manifolds and lobe dynamics. Some nontrivial extensions of well-known results are discussed, and some extensions of the theory are developed. In problems for which the flow field consists of a steady background on which a time-dependent perturbation is superimposed, it is shown that transport barriers arise naturally and play a critical role in transport processes. Theoretical results are applied to the study of transport in measured and simulated oceanographic and atmospheric flows. Two particular problems are considered. First, we study the Lagrangian dynamics of the zonal jet at the perimeter of the Antarctic Stratospheric Polar Vortex during late winter/early spring within which lies the "ozone hole". In this system, a robust transport barrier is found near the core of a zonal jet under typical conditions, which is responsible for trapping of the ozone-depleted air within the ozone hole. The existence of such a barrier is predicted theoretically and tested numerically with use of a dynamically-motivated analytically-prescribed model. The second, oceanographic, application considered is the study of the surface transport in the Adriatic Sea. The surface flow in the Adriatic is characterized by a robust threegyre background circulation pattern. Motivated by this observation, the Lagrangian dynamics of a perturbed three-gyre system is studied, with emphasis on intergyre transport and the role of transport barriers. It is shown that a qualitative change in transport properties, accompanied by a qualitative change in the structure of stable and unstable manifolds occurs in the perturbed three-gyre system when the perturbation strength exceeds a certain threshold. This behavior is predicted theoretically, simulated numerically with use of an analytically prescribed model, and shown to be consistent with a fully observationally-based model.


Stratospheric Polar Vortex; Ozone Hole; Transport In Two-dimesional Incompressible Fluid F; Hamiltonian Dynamics; Lagrangian Coherent Structures; Adriatic Sea