The formation and the evolution of axisymmetric vortex rings in a uniformly rotating fluid, with the rotation axis orthogonal to the ring vorticity, have been investigated by numerical and laboratory experiments. The flow dynamics turned out to be strongly affected by the presence of the rotation. In particular, as the background rotation increases, the translation velocity of the ring decreases, a structure with opposite circulation forms ahead of the ring and an intense axial vortex is generated on the axis of symmetry in the tail of the ring. The occurrence of these structures has been explained by the presence of a self-induced swirl flow and by inspection of the extra terms in the Navier–Stokes equations due to rotation. Although in the present case the swirl was generated by the vortex ring itself, these results are in agreement with those of Virk et al. (1994) for polarized vortex rings, in which the swirl flow was initially assigned as a ‘degree of polarization’.
If the rotation rate is further increased beyond a certain value, the flow starts to be dominated by Coriolis forces. In this flow regime, the impulse imparted to the fluid no longer generates a vortex ring, but rather it excites inertial waves allowing the flow to radiate energy. Evidence of this phenomenon is shown.
Finally, some three-dimensional numerical results are discussed in order to justify some asymmetries observed in flow visualizations.