Effect of the Earth's Coriolis force on the large-scale circulation of turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection
Physics of Fluids
We present measurements of the large-scale circulation ͑LSC͒ of turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection in water-filled cylindrical samples of heights equal to their diameters. The orientation of the LSC had an irregular time dependence, but revealed a net azimuthal rotation with an average period of about 3 days for Rayleigh numbers R տ 10 10 . On average there was also a tendency for the LSC to be aligned with upflow to the west and downflow to the east, even after physically rotating the
... rotating the apparatus in the laboratory through various angles. Both of these phenomena could be explained as a result of the coupling of the Earth's Coriolis force to the LSC. The rate of azimuthal rotation could be calculated from a model of diffusive LSC orientation meandering with a potential barrier due to the Coriolis force. The model and the data revealed an additional contribution to the potential barrier that could be attributed to the cooling system of the sample top that dominated the preferred orientation of the LSC at high R. The tendency for the LSC to be in a preferred orientation due to the Coriolis force could be canceled by a slight tilt of the apparatus relative to gravity, although this tilt affected other aspects of the LSC that the Coriolis force did not.