We present the results of a combined theoretical and experimental study of the stability of a uniformly stratified fluid bounded by a sidewall moving vertically with constant velocity. This arrangement is perhaps the simplest in which boundary effects can drive instability and, potentially, layering in a stratified fluid. Our investigations reveal that for a given stratification and diffusivity of the stratifying agent, the sidewall boundary-layer flow becomes linearly unstable when the wall velocity exceeds a critical value. The onset of instability is clearly observed in the experiments, and there is good quantitative agreement with some predictions of the linear stability analysis.
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