HPCCprojects:Double-diffusive gravity currents

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Double-diffusive gravity currents

Project description

A double-diffusive gravity current behaves differently than an ordinary single-diffusive gravity current. One difference is the presence of turbulent drag resulting from double-diffusive fingering. This drag is much higher than viscous drag, especially at large Reynolds numbers. The double-diffusive current might therefore be expected to propagate more slowly than a single-diffusive current, but this is not always true. Double diffusion can also affect the driving bouyancy force of the current. Assume for the sake of argument that the two components are heat and salt and that the current is a hot and salty flow over a cold and fresh ambient. Double-diffusive fingering results in adjacent upward and downward travelling fingers. Since heat diffuses more quickly, it escapes the downward moving fingers and diffuses into the upward moving fingers and is carried back into the current. In this way the current loses more salt than heat, even though it might have been originally expected that the current would lose more heat, since heat has a higher diffusivity. However, there are cases where the double diffusive fingering is not strong enough to overcome the effect of bulk diffusion. In these cases, the current loses bouyancy and has turbulent drag (although it will be smaller because the fingering is less intense), so it is slower than the single diffusive current.


  • To be able to predict what factors will govern the spread on the double-diffusive current, given initial conditions
  • To be able to predict the front velocity of a double diffusive-gravity current


Start: Fall 2012

Models in use

SISV, a Spectral, Implicit, Streamfunction-Vorticity solver for the Navier-Stokes equations. This code has the following properties:

  • 2d flow solver
  • High accuracy. Spectral in horizontal and compact finite differences in vertical
  • Runs in parallel with MPI-based communication
  • Navier-Stokes equations to describe the fluid motion
  • Transport equation to describe the particle (and/or salinity) motion
  • Uses FFTW and LAPACK for efficient calculations


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  • Nathan Konopliv
  • Arnaud Gautron
  • Matthieu Pettinotti


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