Europhys. Lett.
Volume 62, Number 6, June 2003
Page(s) 829 - 833
Section Electromagnetism, optics, acoustics, heat transfer, classical mechanics, and fluid dynamics
Published online 01 June 2003
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-00447-3
Europhys. Lett., 62 (6) , pp. 829-833 (2003)

Rayleigh-number evolution of large-scale coherent motion in turbulent convection

J. J. Niemela and K. R. Sreenivasan

International Center for Theoretical Physics - Strada Costiera 11, 34014 Trieste, Italy

(Received 6 January 2003; accepted in final form 15 April 2003)

At least up to Rayleigh numbers of the order 1013, a feature of turbulent convection in confined containers is a self-organized and coherent large-scale motion ("mean wind"). For aspect ratio unity, the mean wind is comparable in scale to the container size. Its magnitude is measured here using short-time temperature correlations in a cylindrical container of aspect ratio unity; the working fluid is cryogenic helium and the Rayleigh numbers span from 106 to 1015. The self-organizing advection of "plumes" by the mean wind leads to periodic temperature oscillations near the sidewall. Comparisons of the observed oscillation frequency to the rotational rate of the mean wind, however, have differed by a factor of 2 in the recent literature. It is argued here that this apparent discrepancy is the result of the evolution of the shape of the mean wind, from a tilted and nearly elliptical shape at low Rayleigh numbers to a squarish shape at high Rayleigh numbers, thereby altering the effective path length from which the rotational rate of the mean wind is deduced.

47.27.Te - Convection and heat transfer.
47.27.Jv - High-Reynolds-number turbulence.

© EDP Sciences 2003