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Observations of zonal flow created by potential vorticity mixing in a rotating fluid

Summary: Observations of zonal flow created by potential vorticity mixing in a
rotating fluid
Julien Aubert, Sunghwan Jung, and Harry L. Swinney
Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
Received 3 May 2002; revised 17 July 2002; accepted 18 July 2002; published 24 September 2002.
[1] We present an experimental and numerical study of a
rotating fluid with a zonal flow produced from small-scale
eddies, a common feature of many planetary systems. The
apparatus consists of a water-filled annular tank with a
sloped bottom. Flow is forced mechanically at small, non-
axisymmetric scales. Potential vorticity is materially
conserved and well-mixed. This implies the existence of
nonzero axisymmetric vorticity and therefore of zonal flow,
which has three zones in this case. The strength of zonal flow
has an upper bound imposed by complete depletion of the
beta-plane potential vorticity reservoir. INDEX TERMS:
5707 Planetology: Fluid Planets: Atmospheres--structure and
dynamics; 5734 Planetology: Fluid Planets: Magnetic fields and
magnetism; 5744 Planetology: Fluid Planets: Orbital and rotational
dynamics. Citation: Aubert, J., S. Jung, and H. L. Swinney,


Source: Aubert, Julien - Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris


Collections: Geosciences; Physics