Boundary Zonal Flow in Rotating Turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard Convection

Xuan Zhang, Dennis P.M. Van Gils, Susanne Horn, Marcel Wedi, Lukas Zwirner, Guenter Ahlers, Robert E. Ecke, Stephan Weiss, Eberhard Bodenschatz, Olga Shishkina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


For rapidly rotating turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection in a slender cylindrical cell, experiments and direct numerical simulations reveal a boundary zonal flow (BZF) that replaces the classical large-scale circulation. The BZF is located near the vertical side wall and enables enhanced heat transport there. Although the azimuthal velocity of the BZF is cyclonic (in the rotating frame), the temperature is an anticyclonic traveling wave of mode one, whose signature is a bimodal temperature distribution near the radial boundary. The BZF width is found to scale like Ra1/4Ek2/3 where the Ekman number Ek decreases with increasing rotation rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number084505
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2020


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