In connection with the recent investigations of the instability of unbounded elliptical flows, some methods are discussed for the study of the instability of bounded flows. The stability of a ‘basic flow’ which is two-dimensional and rotating, with elliptical streamlines similar to the elliptical section of an experimentally studied cavity, is investigated in the framework of linear theory (for circular rotation, the flow discussed is stable). The regions of instability for three-dimensional disturbances are found in the plane of the parameters defining the geometry of the system (the height of the ellipsoidal cavity and the degree of ellipticity). It is shown that two types of instability exist, characterized by either monotone or oscillatory growth of the amplitudes of small disturbances.
The influence of the Coriolis force field on this instability mechanism is also studied. Rotation of the system as a whole changes the regions of instability in parameter space characterizing the geometry of the cavity and the wavenumbers of unstable disturbances. As a result, the Coriolis force may stabilize or destabilize the basic flow for a given geometry.
The instability of rotating density-stratified flow with elliptical streamlines is also considered.