Competition between Ekman plumes and vortex condensates in rapidly rotating thermal convection

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Abstract

We perform direct numerical simulations of rotating Rayleigh-Bénard convection (RRBC) of fluids with low (Pr=0.1) and high (Pr≈5) Prandtl numbers in a horizontally periodic layer with no-slip bottom and top boundaries. No-slip boundaries are known to actively promote the formation of plumelike vertical disturbances, through so-called Ekman pumping, that control the ambient flow at sufficiently high rotation rates. At both Prandtl numbers, we demonstrate the presence of competing large-scale vortices (LSVs) in the bulk. Strong buoyant forcing and rotation foster the quasi-two-dimensional turbulent state of the flow that leads to the upscale transfer of kinetic energy that forms the domain-filling LSV condensate. The Ekman plumes from the boundary layers are sheared apart by the large-scale flow, yet we find that their energy feeds the upscale transfer. Our results of RRBC simulations substantiate the emergence of large-scale flows in nature regardless of the specific details of the boundary conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number214501
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume125
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020

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