Non-destructive measurements by laser Doppler velocimetry is employed to study unsteady flow in a hollow drum filled with liquid. The drum is suddenly accelerated from rest or is suddenly decelerated from a steady rotation to rest. Pure water and glycerin-water mixtures are used as the test liquid in which polyethylenelatex particles are mixed as the light scattering tracer. The boundary layer formation, the time history of velocity, momentum and kinetic energy of the liquid, the wall-to-fluid force transfer, and the transient response time are determined. Also determined are the effects of side walls and fluid viscosity on the transient flow response. Of importance is the disclosure of Ekman layer instability near the inner radial wall of the test drum. It is actuated by the centripetal acceleration-induced buoyancy force
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