A radial barrier has been mounted in a differentially heated rotating annulus that partially blocks the azimuthal flow component. The experiment can be seen as an analog to geophysical flows with constrictions, e.g., the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. However, the experiment has been carried out without a particular natural flow in mind. The main interest was to observe a baroclinic annulus flow that does not become saturated. Hence, in contrast to the annulus flow without a barrier, the partially blocked flow remains transient and surface heat fluxes associated with baroclinic life cycles can be studied. The annulus can be subdivided into the upstream half of the barrier, where waves amplify, and the downstream half of the barrier, where waves decay. In the upstream half, the azimuthal mean flow is moderate but with a significant positive eddy radial heat flux. In the downstream half, we find a strong jet in the mean azimuthal flow and furthermore an increased radial mean temperature gradient. The latter points to a weakened or even reversed radial eddy heat flux in the lee side of the barrier. Temperature anomalies appear as large bulges in the outer part of the annulus. Moreover, an outward shift of vortex centers can be observed with respect to centers of temperature anomalies. This phase shift between pressure and temperature anomalies differs from that of classical Eady modes of baroclinic instability.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 10, 2011
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