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Selective withdrawal and spin-up of a rotating stratified fluid

  • S. G. Monismith (a1) and T. Maxworthy (a2)


We present an experimental study demonstrating that rotation has a pronounced effect on currents induced by selective withdrawal of fluid from a density-stratified reservoir. Our observations show that initiating outflow from the reservoir generates Kelvin shear waves. These waves propagate cyclonically around the perimeter of the reservoir, establishing an anticyclonic withdrawal-layer flow. This flow accelerates owing to the production of relative vorticity by compression of ‘planetary’ vorticity. The withdrawal-layer thickness as shown by vertical profiles of the horizontal velocity grows with time. Separation of the side-wall boundary layers in the corners of the tank causes the spun-up flow to eventually break up into a series of counterrotating gyres. We also present a model that describes many features of the spin-up process observed before onset of separation and subsequent gyre formation. The model shows that vertical diffusion of vorticity plays an important role in the spin up process, leading us to conclude that apparent thickening of the withdrawal layer over time, as seen in changes in the velocity profile, is associated with the vertical diffusion of the spun-up vorticity.



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Selective withdrawal and spin-up of a rotating stratified fluid

  • S. G. Monismith (a1) and T. Maxworthy (a2)


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