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A rotating fluid cylinder subject to weak precession


In this paper, we report experimental and theoretical results on the flow inside a precessing and rotating cylinder. Particle image velocimetry measurements have revealed the instantaneous structure of the flow and confirmed that it is the sum of forced inertial (Kelvin) modes, as predicted by the classical linear inviscid theory. But this theory predicts also that the amplitude of a mode diverges when its natural frequency equals the precession frequency. A viscous and weakly nonlinear theory has therefore been developed at the resonance. This theory has been compared to experimental results and shows a good quantitative agreement. For low Reynolds numbers, the mode amplitude scales as the square root of the Reynolds number owing to the presence of Ekman layers on the cylinder walls. When the Reynolds number is increased, the amplitude saturates at a value which scales as the precession angle to the power one-third for a given resonance. The nonlinear theory also predicts the forcing of a geostrophic (axisymmetric) mode which has been observed and measured in the experiments. These results allow the flow inside a precessing cylinder to be fully characterized in all regimes as long as there is no instability.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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