Thermal convection driven by centrifugal buoyancy in a rapidly rotating narrow annular channel is studied in the case of rigid cylindrical walls. The pattern of high-wavenumber thermal Rossby waves becomes increasingly modulated and finally chaotic as the Rayleigh number is increased. Retrograde as well as prograde mean zonal flows are found. The prograde mean flow dominates in fluids with large Prandtl number, while retrograde mean flows are more typical for small Prandtl numbers. Although the basic thermal Rossby waves travel in the prograde direction when the height of the annulus decreases with distance from the axis, their long-wavelength modulations often propagate in the retrograde direction.
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