Ekman decay of a dipolar vortex in a rotating fluid

L. Zavala Sansón, G.J.F. Heijst, van, N.A. Backx

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The evolution of quasi-two-dimensional (2D) dipolar vortices over a flat bottom in a rotating fluid system is studied numerically, and the main results are experimentally verified. Our aim is to examine the dipole decay due to bottom friction effects. The numerical simulations are based on the 2D physical model derived by Zavala Sansón and van Heijst [J. Fluid Mech. 412, 75 (2000)], which contains nonlinear Ekman terms, associated with bottom friction, in the vorticity equation. In contrast, the conventional 2D model with bottom friction only retains a linear stretching term in the same equation. It is shown that the dipole trajectory is deflected towards the right (i.e., in the anticyclonic direction) when nonlinear Ekman terms are included. This effect is not observed in simulations based on the conventional model, where the dipole trajectory is a straight line. The basic reason for this behavior is the slower decay of the anticyclonic part of the dipole, with respect to the cyclonic one, due to nonlinear Ekman effects. Another important result is the exchange of fluid between the cyclonic part and the ambient, leaving a tail behind the dipole. By means of laboratory experiments in a rotating tank, these results are qualitatively verified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-451
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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