The Eliassen–Palm flux tensor

James Roland Maddison, D. P. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper it to derive general coordinate-invariant forms of the Eliassen–Palm flux tensor and thereby characterize the true geometric nature of the eddy–mean-flow interaction in hydrostatic Boussinesq rotating fluids. In the quasi-geostrophic limit previous forms of the Eliassen–Palm flux tensor are shown to be related to each other via a gauge transformation; a general form is stated and its geometric properties are discussed. Similar methodology is applied to the hydrostatic Boussinesq Navier–Stokes equations to re-derive the residual-mean equations in a coordinate-invariant form. Thickness-weighted averaging in buoyancy coordinates is carefully described, via the definition of a volume-form-weighted average, constructed so as to commute with the covariant divergence of a vector. The procedures leading to the thickness-weight averaged equation are discussed, and forms of the Eliassen–Palm flux tensor which arise are identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-102
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Issue numbern/a
Early online date16 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • geostrophic turbulence
  • ocean processes
  • quasi-geostrophic flows


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