Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Professor Michael Calkins


A detailed investigation of the formation of large-scale vortices (LSVs) in rapidly rotating convection is carried out with an asymptotically-reduced model. The LSVs are generated by an inverse cascade of kinetic energy, which transfers kinetic energy from small length scales to large length scales. We can identify parameters, describing fluids, containing the presence of an inverse cascade by evaluating the transfer of kinetic energy to different wave numbers. We find a critical vertical Reynolds number that delineates the transition to flows which show a robust inverse cascade. The vertical Reynolds number can be fit with a multi-parameter power law, which becomes a better approximation as the Rayleigh number increases. Our model enables predictions for the occurrence of an inverse cascade in a given set of parameters.