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Horizontal convection

Horizontal convection:

Horizontal convection photo

Many of us are probably familiar with convection driven in a fluid both by heating from below and/or cooling from above and by heating/cooling through opposite vertical walls. However, what does convection look like if heating and cooling are applied at the same horizontal level (this flow is termed 'horizontal convection')? Our current research is addressing this question using laboratory experiments, theoretical modelling and numerical simulations.

Recent relevant publications:

Mullarney, J.C., Griffiths, R.W. & Hughes, G.O. 2004 Convection driven by differential heating at a horizontal boundary. J. Fluid Mech. 516, 181–209.

Hughes, G.O. & Griffiths, R.W. 2006 A simple convective model of the global overturning circulation, including effects of entrainment into sinking regions. Ocean Model. 12, 46–79.

Mullarney, J.C., Griffiths, R.W. & Hughes, G.O. 2006 The effects of geothermal heating on the ocean overturning circulation. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, doi:10.1029/2005GL024956.

Coman, M.A., Griffiths, R.W. & Hughes, G.O. 2006 Sandstrom's experiments revisited. J. Mar. Res. 64, 783–796.

Mullarney, J.C., Griffiths, R.W. & Hughes, G.O. 2007 The role of freshwater fluxes in the thermohaline circulation: insights from a laboratory analog. Deep-Sea Res. I 54, 1–21.

Hughes, G.O., Griffiths, R.W., Mullarney, J.C. & Peterson, W.H. 2007 A theoretical model for horizontal convection at high Rayleigh number. J. Fluid Mech. 581, 251–276.

Hughes, G.O. & Griffiths, R.W. 2008 Horizontal Convection. Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech. 40, 185–208.

Hughes, G.O., Hogg, A.McC. & Griffiths, R.W. 2009 Available potential energy and irreversible mixing in the meridional overturning circulation. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 39, 3130–3146.

Coman, M.A., Griffiths, R.W. & Hughes, G.O. 2010 The sensitivity of convection from a horizontal boundary to the distribution of heating. J. Fluid Mech. 647, 71–90.
Developing an understanding of horizontal convection is crucial to answering outstanding questions concerning the role of surface buoyancy forcing in the circulation of the global oceans (in which surface waters are subject to net heating at equatorial latitudes and net cooling/freshwater input toward polar latitudes).