Boundary layers in turbulent vertical convection at high Prandtl number

Christopher J. Howland*, Chong Shen Ng, Roberto Verzicco, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Many environmental flows arise due to natural convection at a vertical surface, from flows in buildings to dissolving ice faces at marine-terminating glaciers. We use three-dimensional direct numerical simulations of a vertical channel with differentially heated walls to investigate such convective, turbulent boundary layers. Through the implementation of a multiple-resolution technique, we are able to perform simulations at a wide range of Prandtl numbers. This allows us to distinguish the parameter dependences of the horizontal heat flux and the boundary layer widths in terms of the Rayleigh number and Prandtl number. For the considered parameter range, we find the flow to be consistent with a 'buoyancy-controlled' regime where the heat flux is independent of the wall separation. For given, the heat flux is found to scale linearly with the friction velocity. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results for the parameterisation of heat and salt fluxes at vertical ice-ocean interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA32
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022


  • buoyant boundary layers
  • turbulent boundary layers
  • turbulent convection
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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