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The Effects of Robin Boundary Condition on Thermal Convection in a Rotating Spherical Shell

Abstract : Convection in a spherical shell is widely used to model fluid layers of planets and stars. The choice of thermal boundary conditions in such models is not always straightforward. To understand the implications of this choice, we report on the effects of the thermal boundary condition on thermal convection, in terms of instability onset, fully developed transport properties and flow structure. We use the Boussinesq approximation, and impose a Robin boundary condition at the top. This enforces the temperature anomaly and its radial derivative to be linearly coupled with a proportionality factor β. Using the height H of the fluid layer, we introduce the non-dimensional Biot number Bi* = βH. Varying Bi* allows us to transition from fixed temperature for Bi* = +∞, to fixed thermal flux for Bi* = 0. The bottom boundary of the shell is kept isothermal. We find that the onset of convection is only affected by Bi* in the non-rotating case. Far from onset, considering an effective Rayleigh number and a generalized Nusselt number, we show that the Nusselt and Péclet numbers follow standard universal scaling laws, independent of Bi* in all cases considered. However, the large-scale flow structure keeps the signature of the boundary condition with more vigorous large scales for smaller Bi* , even though the global heat transfer and kinetic energy are the same. Finally, for all practical purposes, the Robin condition can be safely replaced by a fixed flux when Bi* < 0.03 and by a fixed temperature for Bi* > 30.
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Contributor : Nathanaël Schaeffer <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 11:52:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 30, 2020 - 1:08:07 PM


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  • HAL Id : insu-02988956, version 1
  • ARXIV : 2011.03412


Thibaut Clarté, Nathanaël Schaeffer, Stéphane Labrosse, Jérémie Vidal. The Effects of Robin Boundary Condition on Thermal Convection in a Rotating Spherical Shell. 2020. ⟨insu-02988956⟩



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