Multiple scaling in the ultimate regime of thermal convection

Siegfried Grossmann, Detlef Lohse

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Very different types of scaling of the Nusselt number Nu with the Rayleigh number Ra have experimentally been found in the very large Ra regime beyond 1011. We understand and interpret these results by extending the unifying theory of thermal convection [ Grossmann and Lohse, Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 3316 (2001) ] to the very large Ra regime where the kinetic boundary-layer is turbulent. The central idea is that the spatial extension of this turbulent boundary-layer with a logarithmic velocity profile is comparable to the size of the cell. Depending on whether the thermal transport is plume dominated, dominated by the background thermal fluctuations, or whether also the thermal boundary-layer is fully turbulent (leading to a logarithmic temperature profile), we obtain effective scaling laws of about Nu∝Ra0.14, Nu∝Ra0.22, and Nu∝Ra0.38, respectively. Depending on the initial conditions or random fluctuations, one or the other of these states may be realized. Since the theory is for both the heat flux Nu and the velocity amplitude Re, we can also give the scaling of the latter, namely, Re∝Ra0.42, Re∝Ra0.45, and Re∝Ra0.50 in the respective ranges
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)045108-1-045108-6
Number of pages6
JournalPhysics of fluids
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Boundary layer turbulence
  • IR-78780
  • METIS-275110
  • Convection

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