On the accessibility of rotating convection regimes in laboratory experimental studies

J.S. Cheng, J.M. Aurnou, K. Julien, R.P.J. Kunnen

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Many geophysical and astrophysical phenomena are driven by massively-turbulent, multiscale fluid dynamics. These fluid systems are often both too remote and too complex to fully grasp without employing forward models. While attempts to directly simulate geophysical systems have made important strides, such models still inhabit modest ranges of the governing parameters that cannot be extrapolated to extreme planetary settings with certainty. An alternate approach is to isolate the fundamental physics in a reduced setting. The canonical problem of rotating Rayleigh-B\'enard convection in a plane layer provides such a reduced framework. Laboratory experiments are capable of resolving broad ranges of length and time scales and are thus well-suited for reaching the extreme conditions where asymptotic behaviors distinctly manifest. In this study, we discuss how to optimize laboratory experiments toward testing asymptotically-predicted rotating convection regimes. We also discuss the limitations that arise in designing these experiments. We apply these criteria to several of the most extreme rotating convection setups to date and predict their capabilities. The achievable parameter ranges of these current and upcoming devices demonstrate that laboratory studies likely still remain on the cusp of exploring geophysically-relevant flow behaviors in rotating convection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1703.02895v3
Number of pages39
JournalarXiv.org, e-Print Archive, Physics
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

38 pages, 9 figures. CHANGES: submitted to Physics of Fluids


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