Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The stability of thermally stratified plane Poiseuille flow

K. S.  Gage a1 and W. H.  Reid a1
a1 The University of Chicago

Article author query
gage ks   [Google Scholar] 
reid wh   [Google Scholar] 


In studying the stability of a thermally stratified fluid in the presence of a viscous shear flow, we have a situation in which there is an important interaction between the mechanism of instability due to the stratification and the Tollmien-Schlichting mechanism due to the shear. A complete analysis has been carried out for the Bénard problem in the presence of a plane Poiseuille flow and it is shown that, although Squire's transformation can be used to reduce the three-dimensional problem to an equivalent two-dimensional one, a theorem of Squire's type does not follow unless the Richardson number exceeds a certain small negative value. This conclusion follows from the fact that, when the stratification is unstable and the Prandtl number is unity, the equivalent two-dimensional problem becomes identical mathematically to the stability problem for spiral flow between rotating cylinders and, from the known results for the spiral flow problem, Squire's transformation can then be used to obtain the complete three-dimensional stability boundary. For the case of stable stratification, however, Squire's theorem is valid and the instability is of the usual Tollmien—Schlichting type. Additional calculations have been made for this case which show that the flow is completely stabilized when the Richardson number exceeds a certain positive value.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received July 4 1967)