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Convection in a compressible fluid with infinite Prandtl number

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2006

Gary T. Jarvis
Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, University of Cambridge, Madingley Rise, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EZ Present address: Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A7.
Dan P. Mckenzie
Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, University of Cambridge, Madingley Rise, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EZ


An approximate set of equations is derived for a compressible liquid of infinite Prandtl number. These are referred to as the anelastic-liquid equations. The approximation requires the product of absolute temperature and volume coefficient of thermal expansion to be small compared to one. A single parameter defined as the ratio of the depth of the convecting layer, d, to the temperature scale height of the liquid, HT, governs the importance of the non-Boussinesq effects of compressibility, viscous dissipation, variable adiabatic temperature gradients and non-hydrostatic pressure gradients. When d/HT [Lt ] 1 the Boussinesq equations result, but when d/HT is O(1) the non-Boussinesq terms become important. Using a time-dependent numerical model, the anelastic-liquid equations are solved in two dimensions and a systematic investigation of compressible convection is presented in which d/HT is varied from 0·1 to 1·5. Both marginal stability and finite-amplitude convection are studied. For d/HT [les ] 1·0 the effect of density variations is primarily geometric; descending parcels of liquid contract and ascending parcels expand, resulting in an increase in vorticity with depth. When d/HT > 1·0 the density stratification significantly stabilizes the lower regions of the marginal state solutions. At all values of d/HT [ges ] 0·25, an adiabatic temperature gradient proportional to temperature has a noticeable stabilizing effect on the lower regions. For d/HT [ges ] 0·5, marginal solutions are completely stabilized at the bottom of the layer and penetrative convection occurs for a finite range of supercritical Rayleigh numbers. In the finite-amplitude solutions adiabatic heating and cooling produces an isentropic central region. Viscous dissipation acts to redistribute buoyancy sources and intense frictional heating influences flow solutions locally in a time-dependent manner. The ratio of the total viscous heating in the convecting system, ϕ, to the heat flux across the upper surface, Fu, has an upper limit equal to d/HT. This limit is achieved at high Rayleigh numbers, when heating is entirely from below, and, for sufficiently large values of d/HT, Φ/Fu is greater than 1·00.

Research Article
© 1980 Cambridge University Press

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