Rayleigh-Bénard convection with phase changes in a Galerkin model

Thomas Weidauer, Olivier Pauluis, Jörg Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition to turbulence in Rayleigh-Bénard convection with phase changes and the resulting convective patterns are studied in a three-dimensional Galerkin model. Our study is focused on the conditionally unstable regime of moist convection in which the stratification is stable for unsaturated air parcels and unstable for saturated parcels. We perform a comprehensive statistical analysis of the transition to convection that samples the dependence of attractors (or fixed points) in the phase space of the model on the dimensionless parameters. Conditionally unstable convection can be initiated either from a fully unsaturated linearly stable equilibrium or a fully saturated linearly unstable equilibrium. Highly localized moist convection can be found in a steady state, in an oscillating recharge-discharge regime, or turbulent in dependence of the aspect ratio and the degree of stable stratification of the unsaturated air. Our phase-space analysis predicts parameter ranges for which self-sustained convective regimes in the case of subcritical conditional instability can be observed. The observed regime transitions for moist convection bear some similarities to transitions to turbulence in simple shear flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number046303
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 6 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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