Large-scale vortices in rapidly rotating Rayleigh–Bénard convection

Céline Guervilly, David W. Hughes, Chris A. Jones
2014 Journal of Fluid Mechanics  
Using numerical simulations of rapidly rotating Boussinesq convection in a Cartesian box, we study the formation of long-lived, large-scale, depth-invariant coherent structures. These structures, which consist of concentrated cyclones, grow to the horizontal size of the box, with velocities significantly larger than the convective motions. We vary the rotation rate, the thermal driving and the aspect ratio in order to determine the domain of existence of these large-scale vortices (LSV). We
more » ... that two conditions are required for their formation. First, the Rayleigh number, a meaure of the thermal driving, must be several times its value at the linear onset of convection; this corresponds to Reynolds numbers, based on the convective velocity and the box depth, ≳ 100. Second, the rotational constraint on the convective structures must be strong. This requires that the local Rossby number, based on the convective velocity and the horizontal convective scale, ≲ 0.15. Simulations in which certain wavenumbers are artificially suppressed in spectral space suggest that the LSV are produced by the interactions of small-scale, depth-dependent convective motions. The presence of LSV significantly reduces the efficiency of the convective heat transport.
doi:10.1017/jfm.2014.542 fatcat:4yvlaontqncwlnvu3fgd3bezxe