On the aspect ratio of Rayleigh‐Benard convection cells

Ulrich Christensen, David Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We report numerical model calculations of isoviscous bottom‐heated convection in a two‐dimensional box with aspect ratio twelve. The aim was to determine the preferred aspect ratio of convection cells. Time‐dependent runs were started from two widely different initial conditions. At Rayleigh numbers in the range 105‐106 about eight cells with a mean aspect ratio of 1.5 formed eventually in each case. Thus neither the preference for approximately square cells, nor the stability of very elongated cells could be confirmed. The existence of large‐scale convective structures in the earth's mantle must be due to deviations from the simple Rayleigh‐Bénard model of convection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-600
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1988

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