Experimental study of internal wave generation by convection in water

Michael Le Bars, Daniel Lecoanet, Stéphane Perrard, Adolfo Ribeiro, Laetitia Rodet, Jonathan M. Aurnou, Patrice Le Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We experimentally investigate the dynamics of water cooled from below at 0 °C and heated from above. Taking advantage of the unusual property that water's density maximum is at about 4 °C, this set-up allows us to simulate in the laboratory a turbulent convective layer adjacent to a stably stratified layer, which is representative of atmospheric and stellar conditions. High precision temperature and velocity measurements are described, with a special focus on the convectively excited internal waves propagating in the stratified zone. Most of the convective energy is at low frequency, and corresponding waves are localized to the vicinity of the interface. However, we show that some energy radiates far from the interface, carried by shorter horizontal wavelength, higher frequency waves. Our data suggest that the internal wave field is passively excited by the convective fluctuations, and the wave propagation is correctly described by the dissipative linear wave theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045502
JournalFluid Dynamics Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Rayleigh-Bénard convection
  • internal waves
  • stratified flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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