Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Horizontal convection is non-turbulent

F. PAPARELLA a1 and W. R. YOUNG a2
a1 Department of Mathematics, University of Lecce, Italy
a2 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093-0213, USA


Consider the problem of horizontal convection: a Boussinesq fluid, forced by applying a non-uniform temperature at its top surface, with all other boundaries insulating. We prove that if the viscosity, [nu], and thermal diffusivity, [kappa], are lowered to zero, with [sigma] [identical with] [nu]/[kappa] fixed, then the energy dissipation per unit mass, [kappa], also vanishes in this limit. Numerical solutions of the two-dimensional case show that despite this anti-turbulence theorem, horizontal convection exhibits a transition to eddying flow, provided that the Rayleigh number is sufficiently high, or the Prandtl number [sigma] sufficiently small. We speculate that horizontal convection is an example of a flow with a large number of active modes which is nonetheless not ‘truly turbulent’ because [epsilon][rightward arrow]0 in the inviscid limit.

(Received April 27 2002)
(Revised May 22 2002)