Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The thermohaline Rayleigh-Jeffreys problem

D. A.  Nield a1
a1 Department of Mathematics, University of Auckland, New Zealand

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The onset of convection induced by thermal and solute concentration gradients, in a horizontal layer of a viscous fluid, is studied by means of linear stability analysis. A Fourier series method is used to obtain the eigenvalue equation, which involves a thermal Rayleigh number R and an analogous solute Rayleigh number S, for a general set of boundary conditions. Numerical solutions are obtained for selected cases. Both oscillatory and monotonic instability are considered, but only the latter is treated in detail. The former can occur when a strongly stabilizing solvent gradient is opposed by a destablizing thermal gradient. When the same boundary equations are required to be satisfied by the temperature and concentration perturbations, the monotonic stability boundary curve in the (R, S)-plane is a straight line. Otherwise this curve is concave towards the origin. For certain combinations of boundary conditions the critical value of R does not depend on S (for some range of S) or vice versa. This situation pertains when the critical horizontal wave-number is zero.

A general discussion of the possibility and significance of convection at ‘zero’ wave-number (single convection cell) is presented in an appendix.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received December 28 1966)