What causes water flowing down a sinkhole to swirl clockwise and counterclockwise?

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Why does water falling from a sinkhole rotate one way in the Northern Hemisphere and the other way in the Southern Hemisphere?

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Although observers differed on many points and factors, most of them agreed on the Coriolis effect / Coriolis force.
  • Simply put, the Corilolis force is a consequence of the Earth’s rotation, not a force.
  • Some scientists disagree with the theory because the Coriolis effect is so weak in some cases that it simply cannot measure the forces at play in the toilet, tub, or sink.

This is a question that has been asked of all age groups for decades. Although it is simple physics, there is still a lot of disagreement about the answer to it.

We’re talking about water swirling around in a drain or sinkhole that doesn’t always go in a certain direction depending on which hemisphere you’re in.

Water flowing into a sinkhole swirls clockwise in some parts of the world and counter-clockwise in other parts.

Although this is a common finding, it has been debated and theorized by several experts around the world.

Although observers differed on many points and factors, most of them agreed on the Coriolis effect / Coriolis force.

What is that?

Effect by which a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force (the Coriolis force) acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and the axis of rotation. On Earth, the effect tends to deflect moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere and is important in the formation of cyclonic weather systems.

Simply put, it’s a consequence of the Earth’s rotation, not a force.

A geologist from the Louisiana Geological Survey presented an argument for why water descending into a sinkhole would indeed spin in different directions depending on which hemisphere you are in.

“The direction of motion is caused by the Coriolis effect. This can be visualized if you imagine putting a pan of water on a turntable and then rotating the turntable counterclockwise, the direction in which the earth rotates seen from above the north pole,” said Brad Hanson

“The water at the bottom of the pan will be drawn counter-clockwise slightly faster than the water at the top, giving the water an apparent clockwise rotation in But if you were to look at the water in the pan from below, corresponding to seeing it from the south pole, it would appear to be rotating counterclockwise. produces an effect that tends to accelerate the drainage of water clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere,” he said. added.

But a professor emeritus of ocean and atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University said the Coriolis effect may not have much to do with the directions of swirling water.

“Local irregularities in motion are so dominant that the Coriolis effect is unlikely to be revealed. Empirical testing might help,” said Fred W. Decker.

But despite the fanciful notions and disagreements, most scientists still believe that the behavior of water is a fact based on the Coriolis effect.

Some scientists disagree with the theory because the Coriolis effect is so weak in some cases that it simply cannot measure the forces at play in the toilet, tub, or sink.

A good example would be transferring water to a cup of tea.

The Coriolis effect is still used as the main principle for explaining the behavior of water. However, physicists around the world are still not 100% sure of the effect.

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