Transition between advection and inertial wave propagation in rotating turbulence

Jonathan Brons, Peter J. Thomas, Alban Potherat

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Abstract

In turbulent flows subject to strong background rotation, the advective mechanisms of turbulence are superseded by the propagation of inertial waves, as the effects of rotation become dominant. While this mechanism has been identified experimentally, the conditions of the transition between the two mechanisms are less clear. We tackle this question experimentally by tracking the turbulent front away from a solid wall where jets enter an otherwise quiescent fluid. Without background rotation, this apparatus generates a turbulent front whose displacement recovers the $z(t)\sim t^{1/2}$ law classically obtained with an oscillating grid and we further establish the scale-independence of the associated transport mechanism. When the apparatus is rotating at a constant velocity perpendicular to the wall where fluid is injected, not only does the turbulent front become mainly transported by inertial waves, but advection itself is suppressed because of the local deficit of momentum incurred by the propagation of these waves. Scale-by-scale analysis of the displacement of the turbulent front reveals that the transition between advection and propagation is local both in space and spectrally, and takes place when the Rossby number based on the considered scale is of unity, or equivalently, when the scale-dependent group velocity of inertial waves matched the local advection velocity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA22
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume886
Early online date15 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2020

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Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • rotating flows
  • waves in rotating fluids
  • rotating turbulence

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