Dynamics of monopolar vortices in a strain flow

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Abstract

The strain-induced evolution of shielded monopolar vortices has been investigated in a stratified fluid. A steady strain flow was generated by an arrangement of four rotating horizontal discs, whereas the monopolar vortex was created by a small spinning sphere. Quantitative information about the flow field was obtained by tracking passive tracer particles. The vortex was observed to deform into a tripolar-like structure, followed by the shedding of the accompanying satellites. During this stage, the remaining vortex core evolved quasi-steadily, which was evident from the functional relationship between the vorticity and the stream function. Furthermore, it was shown that the removal of the surrounding ring of oppositely signed vorticity induces an accelerated horizontal growth of the vortex core. Owing to the diffusive decay of vorticity, the vortex was finally torn apart along the horizontal strain axis. The dynamics of the vortex core appeared to be very similar to that of an elliptic patch of uniform vorticity. The instantaneous vorticity contours at high vorticity levels were close to ellipses with nearly the same aspect ratios and orientations. Moreover, the observed vortex evolution was in qualitative agreement with the calculated motion of an elliptic patch of uniform vorticity. As a second approach, the full two-dimensional vorticity equation was solved numerically by a finite-difference method in order to account for both the non-uniform spatial vorticity distribution of the laboratory vortex and the diffusion of vorticity in the horizontal directions. The numerically obtained vortex evolution was in good agreement with that observed in the laboratory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-201
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume345
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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