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Richard M. McLaughlin
RTG Fluids Group
The Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Salt water vortex rings descending in fresh water
Close up view of a heavy, green-dyed salt water droplet falling in fresh water. Because of the friction in the fluid, the droplet develops into a vortex ring which shows up visually through the sharp change in refractive index due to the different densities of the fluids. Streaks of salt and dyed fluid are left behind in the motion of the droplet towards the bottom giving a rendition of a crystal pendant chandelier. This phenomenon is a member of a class of interactions occurring in stratified fluids which can play an important role on global scales for processes such as the carbon budget in the oceans and atmosphere. Further interactions of this type in rising fluids under their buoyancy likely played a role in the formation of underwater oil plumes in the recent Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.
This work is funded by the National Science Foundation through NSF RTG DMS-0502266, NSF RTG DMS-0943851, NSF RAPID CBET-1045653, NSF CMG ARC-1025523, and NSF DMS-1009750.
Reporters may freely use this image. Credit: The Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics, UNC Joint Fluids Lab, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2010).