Unravelling the large-scale circulation modes in turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard convection

Susanne Horn, Peter J. Schmid, Jonathan M. Aurnou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The large-scale circulation (LSC) is the most fundamental turbulent coherent flow structure in Rayleigh-B\'enard convection. Further, LSCs provide the foundation upon which superstructures, the largest observable features in convective systems, are formed. In confined cylindrical geometries with diameter-to-height aspect ratios of Γ ≅ 1, LSC dynamics are known to be governed by a quasi-two-dimensional, coupled horizontal sloshing and torsional (ST) oscillatory mode. In contrast, in Γ ≥ √2 cylinders, a three-dimensional jump rope vortex (JRV) motion dominates the LSC dynamics. Here, we use dynamic mode decomposition (DMD) on direct numerical simulation data of liquid metal to show that both types of modes co-exist in Γ = 1 and Γ = 2 cylinders but with opposite dynamical importance. Furthermore, with this analysis, we demonstrate that ST oscillations originate from a tilted elliptical mean flow superposed with a symmetric higher order mode, which is connected to the four rolls in the plane perpendicular to the LSC in Γ = 1 tanks.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEPL (Europhysics Letters)
StatePublished - Nov 26 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-27
Acknowledgements: S.H. gratefully acknowledges funding by the EPSRC (grant EP/V047388/1) and J.M.A. by the NSF Geophysics Program (EAR awards 1620649 and 1853196).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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