Laboratory studies of stratified convection with multiple states Academic Article uri icon


  • A simplified box model of the cooling of a salt-stratified ocean has been constructed in the laboratory to test a theory that predicts multiple equilibria if certain conditions exist. An isothermal basin of water had a thin layer of fresh water over salt water. Beside this was a smaller basin connected to the large basin by horizontal tubes at the top, middle and bottom. The small basin was cooled from above. If the top tube has more flow resistance than the bottom tubes, theory indicates that as cooling temperature T* is made colder, there is a sudden transition between two flow states. The velocities in the tubes jump to greater values, while salinity and temperature in the small basin jump to another value. These multiple states are found in the laboratory experiments along with some states that oscillate. Laboratory measurements and layered model calculations for hysteresis and the jump of temperature and salinity agree qualitatively, but there is only rough quantitative agreement.

publication date

  • January 2006