Reorientations of the large-scale flow in turbulent convection in a cube

N. Foroozani, J. J. Niemela, V. Armenio, K. R. Sreenivasan

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Large-eddy simulations of turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection were conducted for a fluid of Prandtl number Pr=0.7 confined in a cube, for Rayleigh numbers of 106 and 108. The model solves the unsteady Navier-Stokes equations under the Boussinesq approximation, using a dynamic Smagorinsky model with a Lagrangian averaging technique for the subgrid terms. Under fully developed conditions the flow topology is characterized by a large-scale circulation (LSC) developing in a plane containing one of the diagonals of the cell, while two counter-rotating vortices consequently develop in the other diagonal plane, resulting in a strong inflow at the horizontal midplane. This flow structure is not static, with the LSC undergoing nonperiodic reorientations, or switching, between the two diagonal planes; hence, we supplement the observations of the three-dimensional time-averaged flow structures with single point measurements (time series) to shed light on the dynamics of the reorientations. For all observations, this switching results from a lateral rotation of the LSC in which some finite time spent in a transient state where the large-scale circulation is parallel to one set of side walls; there are, importantly, no observations consistent with so-called cessations of the LSC, in which it decays and then reforms in another plane without such a rotation. The average switching rate for the LSC is in excellent agreement with the results of Bai et al. [K. Bai, D. Ji, and E. Brown, Phys. Rev. E 93, 023117 (2016)PLEEE81539-375510.1103/PhysRevE.93.023117].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number033107
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 10 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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