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Where have all the wall modes gone? Rethinking rotating Rayleigh-B\'enard convection in the geostrophic regime

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Abstract

Using direct numerical simulations, we study rotating Rayleigh-B\'enard convection in a cylindrical cell for a broad range of Rayleigh, Ekman, and Prandtl numbers from the onset of wall modes to the geostrophic regime, an extremely important one in geophysical and astrophysical contexts. We connect linear wall-mode states that occur prior to the onset of bulk convection with the boundary zonal flow that coexists with turbulent bulk convection in the geostrophic regime through the continuity of length and time scales and of convective heat transport. We quantitatively collapse drift frequency, boundary length, and heat transport data from numerous sources over many orders of magnitude in Rayleigh and Ekman numbers. Elucidating the heat transport contributions of wall modes and of the boundary zonal flow are critical for characterizing the properties of the geostrophic regime of rotating convection in finite, physical containers and is crucial for connecting the geostrophic regime of laboratory convection with geophysical and astrophysical systems.

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