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Turbulent convection in the zero Reynolds number limit

Martin Breuer, Ulrich Hansen

 


 

We discuss thermal convection in the infinite Prandtl number limit. This is relevant for convection in the planetary interiors, where inertia of momentum is neglegible, i. e., the Reynolds number of the flow is zero. By means of a numerical two-dimensional model of Rayleigh-Bénard convection, we investigate the evolution of a flow at the Rayleigh number (Ra-108) and demonstrate that even in this zero Reynolds number limit convection exhibits key features of turbulent flow, commonly addressed to high Reynolds number convection. Special attention is given to the phenomenon of reversals in the orientation of the underlying large-scale circulation of the flow. Our case study indicates that flow reversals are an intrinsic feature of turbulent thermal convection resulting from competing states whose main modes turn out to be solutions of the underlying stationary equations.


 Europhysics Letters 86 (2009), 24004

 


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Institut für Geophysik Geschäftsführender Direktor:
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hansen

Corrensstraße 24 · 48149 Münster
Tel.: +49 251 83-33590 · Fax: +49 251 83-36100
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