The test case of baroclinic vortex was initially proposed by Spall and Holland (1991). It was later described in more detail by Penven et al.  (2006) . This test intends to follow the evolution of a  geostrophicaly balanced baroclinic vortex in an idealized ocean on a beta plane centered on 38.5 degrees latitude north. The vortex is constituted by a hot temperature anomaly dynamically equilibrium with a free surface and 3D velocity. Thus defined, the vortex evoles freelly in the simulationover a period of 100 days.

The area is a 1800km side square box over a 5000m depth. The grid is composed of 180×180 pts on the horizontal (for a 10x10km mesh) and 10 layers on the vertical.

The initial free surface is:

and the temperature filed is:

Inserting the movie here!

Usefull files to rerun the Baroclinic Vortex test case:


  • Spall M. A. and W. R. Holland. A nested primitive equation model for oceanic applications. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 21:205-220, 1991.
  • Penven P., L. Debreu, P. Marchesiello and J. C. McWilliams. Evaluation and application of the ROMS 1-way embedding procedure to the central california upwelling system. Ocean Modeling., 12:157-187, 2006.