The role of Stewartson and Ekman layers in turbulent rotating Rayleigh-Bénard convection

Rudie P.J. Kunnen, Richard Johannes Antonius Maria Stevens, Jim Overkamp, Chao Sun, GertJan F. van Heijst, H.J.H. Clercx

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When the classical Rayleigh–Bénard (RB) system is rotated about its vertical axis roughly three regimes can be identified. In regime I (weak rotation) the largescale circulation (LSC) is the dominant feature of the flow. In regime II (moderate rotation) the LSC is replaced by vertically aligned vortices. Regime III (strong rotation) is characterized by suppression of the vertical velocity fluctuations. Using results from experiments and direct numerical simulations of RB convection for a cell with a diameter-to-height aspect ratio equal to one at $Ra \approx 10^8-10^9$ ($Pr = 4-6$) and $0 < 1/Ro < 25$ we identified the characteristics of the azimuthal temperature profiles at the sidewall in the different regimes. In regime I the azimuthal wall temperature profile shows a cosine shape and a vertical temperature gradient due to plumes that travel with the LSC close to the sidewall. In regimes II and III this cosine profile disappears, but the vertical wall temperature gradient is still observed. It turns out that the vertical wall temperature gradient in regimes II and III has a different origin than that observed in regime I. It is caused by boundary layer dynamics characteristic for rotating flows, which drives a secondary flow that transports hot fluid up the sidewall in the lower part of the container and cold fluid downwards along the sidewall in the top part.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)422-442
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Issue numberDecember
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • MACS-MMS: Multiscale Modelling and Simulation
  • EWI-23766
  • Bénard convection
  • IR-78904
  • Rotating flows
  • METIS-279972
  • Boundary layer structure

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