The aim of this work is to shed light by revisiting, from the kernel-wave (KW) perspective, the breakdown of a quasigeostrophic (QG) mixing layer (or vortex strip or filament) in atmosphere under the influence of a background shear. The QG mixing layer is modeled with a family of quasi-Rayleigh velocity profiles in which the potential vorticity (PV) is constant in patches. From the KW perspective, a counterpropagating Rossby wave (CRW) is created at each PV edge, i.e., the edge where a PV jump is located. The important parameters of our study are (i) the vorticity of the uniform shear m and (ii) the Rossby deformation radius L-d, which indicates how far the pressure perturbations can vertically propagate. While an adverse shear (m < 0) stabilizes the system, a favorable shear (m > 0) strengthens the instability. This is due to how the background shear affects the two uncoupled CRWs by shifting the optimal phase difference towards large (small) wave number when m < 0 (m > 0). As a finite L-d is introduced, a general weakening of the instability is noticed, particularly for m > 0. This is mainly due to the reduced interaction between the two CRWs when L-d is finite. Furthermore, nonlinear pseudospectral simulations in the nominally infinite-Reynolds-number limit were conducted using as the initial base flow the same quasi-Rayleigh profiles analyzed in the linear analysis. The growth of the mixing layer is obstructed by introducing a background shear, especially if adverse, since the vortex pairing, which is the main growth mechanism in mixing layers, is strongly hindered. Interestingly, the most energetic configuration is for m = 0, which differs from the linear analyses for which the largest growth rates were found for a positive m. In the absence of a background shear additional modes are subharmonically triggered by the initial disturbance enhancing the turbulent character of the flow. We also confirm energy spectrum trends for broken-down mixing layers reported in the literature. We interpret the character of mixing-layer breakdown as being a phenomenological hybrid of Kraichnan's [R. H. Kraichnan, Phys. Fluids 10, 1417 (1967)] direct enstrophy cascade picture and the picture of self-similar vortex production.
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