Evolution of isolated vortices in a rotating fluid of finite depth

Orlandi, P, Carnevale GF.  1999.  Evolution of isolated vortices in a rotating fluid of finite depth. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 381:239-269.

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2-dimensional incompressible flows, barotropic vortices, stability, tripolar, turbulent-flow, vortex, vortices


Laboratory experiments have shown that monopolar isolated vortices in a rotating flow undergo instabilities that result in the formation of multipolar vortex states such as dipoles and tripoles. In some cases the instability is entirely two-dimensional, with the vortices taking the form of vortex columns aligned along the direction of the ambient rotation at all times. In other cases, the vortex first passes through a highly turbulent three-dimensional state before eventually reorganizing into vortex columns. Through a series of three-dimensional numerical simulations, the roles that centrifugal instability, barotropic instability, and the bottom Ekman boundary layer play in these instabilities are investigated. Evidence is presented that the centrifugal instability can trigger the barotropic instabilities by the enhancement of vorticity gradients. It is shown that the bottom Ekman layer is not essential to these instabilities but can strongly modify their evolution.