The emergence of zonal jets in forced rotating shallow water turbulence: A laboratory study
DICEA, Università La Sapienza - Via Eudossiana 18, 00184 Roma, Italy, EU
Accepted: 19 October 2010
The emergence of a sequence of alternating intense and elongated eastward-westward bands i.e. zonal jets in the atmosphere of the giant planets and in Earth's oceans have been widely investigated. Nevertheless jets formation and role as material barriers remain still unclear. Jets are generated in a quasi-2D turbulent flow due to the latitudinal variation of the Coriolis parameter (the so-called β-effect) which modifies the inverse cascade process channeling energy towards zonal modes. In previous experiments we have investigated the impact of the variation of the rotation rate, of the domain geometry and of the initial spectra on jets organization in a decaying regime. In this work we investigate the formation of jets in a continuously forced flow, we characterize the observed regime and also we attempt to verify the existence of an universal regime corresponding to the so-called zonostrophic turbulence. The experimental set-up consists of a rotating tank where turbulence is generated by electromagnetically forcing a shallow layer of an electrolyte solution, and the variation of the Coriolis parameter has been simulated by the parabolic profile assumed by the free surface of the fluid under rotation. Flow measurements have been performed using image analysis.
PACS: 47.32.Ef – Rotating and swirling flows / 92.10.Ei – Coriolis effects
© EPLA, 2010