Experiments on transitions of baroclinic waves in a differentially heated rotating annulus
- Department of Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, 03046 Cottbus, Germany
Abstract. Experiments of baroclinic waves in a rotating, baroclinic annulus of fluid are presented for two gap widths. The apparatus is a differentially heated cylindrical gap, rotated around its vertical axis of symmetry, cooled from within, with a free surface, and filled with de-ionised water as working fluid. The surface flow was observed with visualisation technique while thermographic measurements gave a detailed understanding of the temperature distribution and its time-dependent behaviour. We focus in particular on transitions between different flow regimes. Using a wide gap, the first transition from axisymmetric flow to the regular wave regime was characterised by complex flows. The transition to irregular flows was smooth, where a coexistence of the large-scale jet-stream and small-scale vortices was observed. Furthermore, temperature measurements showed a repetitive separation of cold vortices from the inner wall. Experiments using a narrow gap showed no complex flows but strong hysteresis in the steady wave regime, with up to five different azimuthal wave modes as potential steady and stable solutions.