Rayleigh-Benard convection: experimental study of time-dependent instabilities

B. Martinet, R. J. Adrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The transition from steady thermal convection to turbulent thermal convection in a horizontal layer of water (Prandtl number=5.8) contained by a square cavity of large aspect ratio (48.5) has been studied using laser Doppler velocimetry. Power spectra of the horizontal velocity fluctuations were measured in the Rayleigh number range from 30,000 and 99,000, wherein periodic, quasi-periodic, and broad-band time-dependent instabilities coexist. At Rayleigh numbers greater than 32,000 a narrow-band spectrum emerges. The frequency of this motion scales with x/d2 modified by a Prandtl number factor for intermediate values of the Prandtl number. Between 10 Racand 30 Raithe frequency undergoes three abrupt jumps while increasing along an Ra2/3 power law. A different frequency mode that occurs above 30 Racappears to be associated with fully turbulent convection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-322
Number of pages7
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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