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Energetics of horizontal convection

  • Bishakhdatta Gayen (a1), Ross W. Griffiths (a1), Graham O. Hughes (a1) and Juan A. Saenz (a1)


Three-dimensional direct numerical simulation of horizontal convection is reported for a large Rayleigh number, $\mathit{Ra}\sim O(1{0}^{12} )$ , and boundary conditions that allow comparison with previous laboratory experiments. The convection is forced by heating over half of the horizontal base of a long channel and cooling over the other half of the base. The solutions are consistent with the experiments, including small-scale streamwise roll instability developing into a convectively mixed layer within the bottom thermal boundary layer, and a turbulent endwall plume. The mechanical energy budget is shown to be dominated by conversions of available potential energy to kinetic energy by buoyancy flux in the plume and the reverse in the interior of the circulation. These local conversions are three orders of magnitude greater than the total rate of viscous dissipation. The total irreversible mixing is exactly equal to the generation of available potential energy by buoyancy forcing, and one order of magnitude larger than the viscous dissipation. This confirms that dissipation rate is not an indicator of the strength of the circulation and explains why horizontal convection is more energetic than might be expected.


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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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