Convection in a long box driven by heating and cooling on the horizontal boundaries

J.J. Sturman, Gregory Ivey, J.R. Taylor

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Convection driven by spatially variable heat transfer across the water surface is an important transport mechanism in many geophysical applications. This flow is modelled in a rectangular tank with an aspect ratio, H/L, of 0.1 (where H and L are the tank height and length, respectively). Heat fluxes are applied through horizontal copper plates of length 0.1 L located at the top of one end of the tank and at the bottom of the other end. Experimental flows have been forced with heating at the bottom of the tank and cooling at the top, which gives rise to unstable convection in the end regions. Using water and a glycerol/water mix as the experimental fluids, flow visualization studies and measurements of temperature, velocity and heat flux have been made. Flow visualization studies revealed that complex unsteady turbulent flows occupied the end regions, while cubic velocity profiles characterized the horizontal laminar flow in the interior of the tank. Simple scaling arguments were developed for steady-state velocity and temperature fields, which are in good agreement with the experimental data. In the current experiments the portion of the plates closest to the tank interior (and to the tank endwall in the case of the glycerol/water experiments) were occupied by laminar boundary layers, while the remainder of the plates were occupied by turbulent flow. An effective Rayleigh number Ra* was defined, based upon the portion of the plate occupied by turbulent flow, as was a corresponding modified Nusselt number Nu*. The heat transfer was well predicted by classical Rayleigh-Benard scaling with the Nusselt number Nu* similar to Ra-*1/3. The range of Ra* was 4.3 x 10(5) less than or equal to Ra* less than or equal to 1.7 x 10(8). Scaling arguments predicted the triple occupancy of the plates by differing boundary layer regimes within the range of 10(5) less than or equal to Ra* less than or equal to 10(14).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-87
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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