Non-Boussinesq effect: Asymmetric velocity profiles in thermal convection

Jun Zhang, Stephen Childress, Albert Libchaber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In thermal convection at high Rayleigh numbers, in the hard turbulent regime, a large scale flow is present. When the viscosity of the fluid strongly depends on temperature, the top-bottom symmetry is broken. In addition to the asymmetric temperature profile across the convection cell, the velocity profiles near the plate boundaries show dramatic difference from the symmetric case. We report here that the second derivative of the velocity profiles are of opposite signs in the thermal sublayers, through measurements derived from the power spectrum of temperature time-series. As a result, the stress rate applied at the plates is maintained constant within a factor of 3, while the viscosity changes by a factor of 53, in qualitative agreement with previous theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1534-1536
Number of pages3
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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