Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 267–282 | Cite as

On the transition process of a swirling vortex generated in a rotating tank

  • Shih-Lin Huang
  • Hung-Cheng Chen
  • Chin-Chou ChuEmail author
  • Chien-Cheng Chang
Research Article


In this study, we investigate the transition of a swirling vortex from a one-celled to a two-celled vortex structure in a rotating tank. The main idea is to initiate the flow by siphoning fluid out of the tank and then to lift the siphoning mechanism out of the water within a short period of time. Before it reaches a state of quasi-two-dimensionality, the core region of the vortex can be roughly divided into three stages. (1) A siphoning stage induces the formation of the one-celled vortex. (2) A downward jet impingement stage triggers the transition of the vortex into the two-celled one. (3) A detachment stage of the inner cell leads to a cup-like recirculation zone, which is pushed upward by an axial flow from the boundary layer. This eventually develops into a stable quasi-two-dimensional barotropic vortex. The core region is enclosed by an outer region, which is in cyclostrophic balance. In the siphoning stage, the flow pattern can be well fitted by Burgers’ vortex model. However, in the post-siphoning stage, the present data show a flow pattern different from the existing two-celled models of Sullivan and Bellamy-Knights. Flow details, including flow patterns, velocity profiles, and surface depressions were measured and visualized by particle tracking velocimetry and the dye-injection method with various colors. The one-celled and two-celled flow structures are also similar to the conceptual images of the one- and two-celled tornadoes proposed in the literature.


Vortex Core Region Vortex Core Outer Cell Particle Track Velocimetry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work was supported in part by the National Science Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) under contract No’s NSC 94-2111-M-002-016 and 93-2119-M-002-008-AP1. The authors would like to appreciate the helpful comments by Professor R. P. Davies-Jones, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, on an early draft of the paper.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shih-Lin Huang
    • 1
  • Hung-Cheng Chen
    • 1
  • Chin-Chou Chu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chien-Cheng Chang
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Applied MechanicsNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.Division of Mechanics, Research Center for Applied Sciences Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  3. 3.Institute of Applied Mechanics and Taida Institute of Mathematical SciencesNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan, ROC

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