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Spatial Holmboe instability

Abstract

International audienceIn mixing-layers between two parallel streams of different densities, shear and gravity effects interplay; buoyancy acts as a restoring force and the Kelvin-Helmholtz mode is known to be stabilized by the stratification. If the density interface is sharp enough, two new instability modes, known as Holmboe modes, appear, propagating in opposite directions. This mechanism has been studied in the temporal instability framework. The present paper analyzes the associated spatial instability problem. It considers, in the Boussinesq approximation, two immiscible inviscid fluids with a piecewise linear broken-line velocity profile. We show how the classical scenario for transition between absolute and convective instability should be modified due to the presence of propagating waves. In the convective region, the spatial theory is relevant and the slowest propagating wave is shown to be the most spatially amplified, as suggested by intuition. Predictions of spatial linear theory are compared with mixing-layer [C.G. Koop and F.K. Browand, J. Fluid Mech. 93, 135 (1979)] and exchange flow [G. Pawlak and L. Armi, J. Fluid Mech. 376, 1 (1999)] experiments. The physical mechanism for Holmboe mode destabilization is analyzed via an asymptotic expansion that predicts the absolute instability domain at large Richardson number. © 2002 American Institute of Physics

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    Last time updated on 21/04/2021