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Space-laboratory and numerical simulations of thermal convection in a rotating hemispherical shell with radial gravity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2006

John E. Hart
Affiliation:
Department of Astrophysical, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
Gary A. Glatzmaier
Affiliation:
Earth and Space Sciences Division, MS F665, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Juri Toomre
Affiliation:
Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, and Department of Astrophysical, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA

Abstract

The Sun and the giant planets rotate and possess deep shells of convection. Some basic aspects of prototypical global convection have been studied with a laboratory model operated in the microgravity environment of Spacelab 3 that flew on the space shuttle Challenger in May 1985. This experiment studied thermally driven circulations within a rotating hemispherical shell of fluid across which are imposed radial and latitudinal temperature gradients. The radial force of gravity is modelled by imposing a strong electric field across the shell, with dielectric polarization forces producing radial accelerations proportional to temperature. When the influence of rotation is large, the experiments yield north-south oriented columnar convection in equatorial and subequatorial regions. As the differential heating is increased, these roll-like cells interact with mid-latitude waves, ultimately being destroyed by turbulent, horizontally isotropic convection that moves down from the pole. When a significant equator-to-pole temperature difference is imposed on the boundaries, spiral waves develop on top of a strong meridional circulation. Intricate, non-axisymmetric, convective patterns that propagate in longitude and evolve in time are described. Schlieren visualizations of these laboratory flows are compared with three-dimensional nonlinear simulations.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1986 Cambridge University Press

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Space-laboratory and numerical simulations of thermal convection in a rotating hemispherical shell with radial gravity
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