Turbulent rotating convection confined in a slender cylinder: the sidewall circulation

Xander M. de Wit, Andres J. Aguirre Guzman, Matteo Madonia, Jonathan Cheng, Herman J.H. Clercx, Rudie P.J. Kunnen (Corresponding author)

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35 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent studies of rotating Rayleigh-Bénard convection at high rotation rates and strong thermal forcing have shown a significant discrepancy in total heat transport between experiments on a confined cylindrical domain on the one hand and simulations on a laterally unconfined periodic domain on the other. This paper addresses this discrepancy using direct numerical simulations on a cylindrical domain. An analysis of the flow field reveals a region of enhanced convection near the wall, the sidewall circulation. The sidewall circulation rotates slowly within the cylinder in anticyclonic direction. It has a convoluted structure, illustrated by mean flow fields in horizontal cross-sections of the flow where instantaneous snapshots are compensated for the orientation of the sidewall circulation before averaging. Through separate analysis of the sidewall region and the inner bulk flow, we find that for higher values of the thermal forcing the heat transport in the inner part of the cylindrical domain, outside the sidewall circulation region, coincides with the heat transport on the unconfined periodic domain. Thus the sidewall circulation accounts for the differences in heat transfer between the two considered domains, while in the bulk the turbulent heat flux is the same as that of a laterally unbounded periodic domain. Therefore, experiments, with their inherent confinement, can still provide turbulence akin to the unbounded domains of simulations, and at more extreme values of the governing parameters for thermal forcing and rotation. We also provide experimental evidence for the existence of the sidewall circulation that is in close agreement with the simulation results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023502
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2020


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