This paper considers the transient motion of a viscous fluid in a container rotating with constant angular velocity. The principal objective is to study the manner in which an arbitrary initial state of motion becomes a rigid rotation. In order to concentrate on the effects of viscosity, only the spherical container is studied here in great detail. A general theory will be presented in a subsequent publication.
Several sources of non-uniform behaviour make the analysis difficult and complex. In particular, there are three important time scales, viscous boundary layers, boundary-layer resonances at critical latitudes and intricate side-wall effects. The basic aproach consists of an expansion procedure by means of which the general inviscid solution is corrected for viscous effects and is made uniformly valid in time through the critical spin-up phase. Uniform validity is effected through the elimination of secular terms with unacceptable growth rates arising from the asymptotic perturbation series.
The interior (inviscid) motion leads to a non-self-adjoint partial differential equation eigenvalue problem with many intriguing properties. The general expansion theorem, orthogonality relationships, and viscous decay factors are deduced and used to solve the arbitrary intial-value problem. It is shown that the depth averaged circulation about circular contours, x2 + y2 = r2, is extracted from the fluid in the spin-up time scale T = L(Ωv)½. This is accomplished by a secondary non-oscillatory convective motion produced by suction into the Ekman layer. The excess circulation not eliminated in this way excites inviscid inertial oscillations which are also caused to decay by the boundary layers in the same time scale. Some very small residual effects decay in the ordinary viscous diffusion time, but all the essential processes are concluded in the much shorter interval. All modal oscillations in a sphere are determined and several specific calculations of frequency and decay rate are made and compared with experimental data. Perhaps the most important of these concerns the mode corresponding to rigid internal motion about another axis which can be produced by impulsively changing the rotation axis of the container. Agreement between theory and experiment is very good in all cases compared thus far.