The flow in the heated rotating cavity of an aero-engine compressor is driven by buoyancy forces, which result in pairs of cyclonic and anticyclonic vortices. The resultant cavity flow field is three-dimensional, unsteady and unstable, which makes it challenging to model the flow and heat transfer. In this paper, properties of the vortex structures are determined from novel unsteady pressure measurements collected on the rotating disc surface over a range of engine-representative parameters. These measurements are the first of their kind with practical significance to the engine designer and for validation of computational fluid dynamics. One cyclonic/anticyclonic vortex pair was detected over the experimental range, despite the measurement of harmonic modes in the frequency spectra at low Rossby numbers. It is shown that these modes were caused by unequal size vortices, with the cyclonic vortex the larger of the pair. The structures slipped relative to the discs at a speed typically around 10% to 15% of that of the rotor, but the speed of precession was often unsteady. The coherency, strength and slip of the vortex pair increased with the buoyancy parameter, due to the stronger buoyancy forces, but they were largely independent of the rotational Reynolds number.

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