Falkner-Skan boundary layer approximation in Rayleigh-Bénard convection

Olga Shishkina, Susanne Horn, Sebastian Wagner

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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To approximate the velocity and temperature within the boundary layers in turbulent thermal convection at moderate Rayleigh numbers, we consider the Falkner–Skan ansatz, which is a generalization of the Prandtl–Blasius one to a non-zero-pressure-gradient case. This ansatz takes into account the influence of the angle of attack of the large-scale circulation of a fluid inside a convection cell against the heated/cooled horizontal plate. With respect to turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard convection, we derive several theoretical estimates, among them the limiting cases of the temperature profiles for all angles , for infinite and for infinitesimal Prandtl numbers . Dependences on and of the ratio of the thermal to viscous boundary layers are obtained from the numerical solutions of the boundary layers equations. For particular cases of , accurate approximations are developed as functions on . The theoretical results are corroborated by our direct numerical simulations for (air) and (water). The angle of attack is estimated based on the information on the locations within the plane of the large-scale circulation where the time-averaged wall shear stress vanishes. For the fluids considered it is found that and the theoretical predictions based on the Falkner–Skan approximation for this leads to better agreement with the DNS results, compared with the Prandtl–Blasius approximation for .
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-463
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date1 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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