Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Ball release experiments on a centrifuge: misalignment between the buoyancy force and the axis of rotation

a1 Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
a2 Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA.

Article author query
riemenschneider u   [Google Scholar] 
sheremet va   [Google Scholar] 


Motivated by work on tilted convection (Sheremet, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 506, 2004, p. 217), a set of experiments is presented here using the same set-up of a tilted tank attached to a rotating centrifuge with a 2.5 m arm. Within the tank small, almost neutrally buoyant, spheres are released, and their trajectories are recorded. Thus the forces acting on a sphere can be analysed in the case of misalignment between the buoyancy force and the axis of rotation.

The angles of descent characterizing the trajectory are compared with inviscid linear theory developed by Stewartson (Q. J. Math. Appl. Mech., vol. 6, 1953, p. 141), and the agreement is found to be good. The angles should be independent of the density anomaly of the spheres compared to their environment. Using the descent velocity from non-rotating experiments, the density of the spheres is estimated and used to determine the drag acting on them in the rotating experiments. It is found that the drag is up to 50% larger than expected from Stewartson's theory. The agreement is best, not for infinitesimal, but for small Rossby numbers. The results are consistent with observations recorded by Maxworthy (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 40, 1970, p. 453).

(Published Online September 15 2006)
(Received February 18 2005)
(Revised March 27 2006)