spin-up and spin-down in a circular tank with a uniformly sloping bottom are studied experimentally and numerically for small values of the relative change in the angular velocity of the tank. Generally, the initial single-cell flow evolves into a number of smaller vortices. The evolution is compared with an analytical model based on an expansion of the flow field in linear Rossby waves (Pedlosky and Greenspan, 1967). Although it is possible to tune the experimental parameters in such a way that agreement with the theory is found, in most cases the experiments show shedding of vortices in the initial stage of the spin-up or spin-down, a phenomenon not described by the analytical model. Nonetheless, in such cases the analytical model still accounts for other observations: the alternating generation of cyclonic and anticyclonic vortices in the eastern part of the tank and their subsequent westward motion.