Numerical simulation of small-scale thermal convection in the atmosphere

  • Richard C. J. Somerville
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 19)


Non-hydrostatic convection is studied by numerical integration of a Boussinesq system in three space dimensions and time. To simulate cloud convection, parameterized effects of latent heat and small-scale turbulence have been included. In this paper, the results are compared, in simplified cases without the parameterizations, with cell structure observed in Rayleigh-Bénard laboratory convection experiments in air. At a Rayleigh number of 4000, the numerical model successfully simulates the experimentally observed evolution, including some prominent transient features, of the flow from a randomly perturbed conductive initial state to a final state of large-amplitude, steady, two-dimensional rolls. At a Rayleigh number of 9000, the model reproduces the experimentally observed unsteady equilibrium of vertically coherent oscillatory waves superimposed on rolls. In both cases, good quantitative agreement with laboratory data is obtained.


Vertical Velocity Rayleigh Number Good Quantitative Agreement Atmospheric Convection Boussinesq System 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard C. J. Somerville
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Courant Institute of Mathematical SciencesNew York UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Goddard Institute for Space Studies-NASANew YorkUSA

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