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The salt-finger zone

  • L. N. Howard (a1) and G. Veronis (a2)


In order to investigate the stability of infinitely long fully developed salt fingers Stern (1975) has proposed a model in which the basic configuration is independent of the vertical and is sinusoidal in the horizontal direction, with constant background gradients of temperature and salinity. The present study deals with a model of finite vertical extent where τ, the ratio of the diffusivities of salt and heat, is small, and where the constant background salt gradient is replaced by a salt difference between the reservoirs above and below a salt-finger region of finite depth. Steady-state solutions in two and three dimensions are obtained for the zero-order (τ = 0) state in which rising (sinking) fingers have the salinity of the lower (upper) reservoir. For two-dimensional fingers the horizontal scale corresponding to maximum buoyancy flux turns out to be 1.7 times the buoyancy-layer scale associated with the background stable temperature gradient. Heat, salt and buoyancy fluxes are calculated. A boundary-layer analysis is given for the (salt) diffusive correction to the zero-order solution. The same set of calculations is carried out for salt fingers in a Hele-Shaw cell. An assessment of Schmitt's (1979a) model of a finger zone of finite depth shows that the parametric restrictions required by the model cannot be satisfied when Stern's idealization is used for the final state. The present model appears to be preferable for constructing a Schmitt-like theory for τ [Lt ] 1.



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Holyer, J. Y. 1984 The stability of long, steady, two-dimensional salt fingers. J. Fluid Mech. 147, 169.
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The salt-finger zone

  • L. N. Howard (a1) and G. Veronis (a2)


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