A scenario is put forward for the appearance of three-dimensionality both in quasi-2D rotating flows and quasi-2D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) flows. We show that 3D recirculating flows and currents originate in wall boundary layers and that, unlike in ordinary hydrodynamic flows, they cannot be ignited by confinement alone. They also induce a second form of three-dimensionality with quadratic variations of velocities and current across the channel. This scenario explains both the common tendency of these flows to two-dimensionality and the mechanisms of the recirculations through a single formal analogy covering a wide class of flows including rotating and MHD flows. These trans-disciplinary effects are thus active in atmospheres, oceans or the cooling blankets of nuclear fusion reactors.
- channel flow