We report the experimental observation of a robust horizontal mean flow induced by internal gravity waves. A wave beam is forced at the lateral boundary of a tank filled with a linearly stratified fluid initially at rest. After a transient regime, a strong jet appears in the wave beam, with horizontal recirculations outside the wave beam. Using multiple scale analysis, we present a simple physical mechanism predicting the growth rate of the mean flow and its initial spatial structure. We find good agreement with experimental results. These results show that a mean flow with non-zero vertical vorticity can be generated by Reynolds stresses if the wave fulfils two conditions: (1) the wave amplitude must vary along its propagation direction, which is the case in the presence of viscosity; (2) the wave amplitude must vary in the lateral direction, which is the case when the wave generator is localized in space.

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