Equilibration of weakly nonlinear salt fingers
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An analytical model is developed to explain the equilibration mechanism of the salt finger instability in unbounded temperature and salinity gradients. The theory is based on the weakly nonlinear asymptotic expansion about the point of marginal instability. The proposed solutions attribute equilibration of salt fingers to a combination of two processes: (i) the triad interaction and (ii) spontaneous development of the mean vertical shear. The non-resonant triad interactions control the equilibration of linear growth for moderate and large values of Prandtl number (Pr) and for slightly unstable parameters. For small Pr and/or rigorous instabilities, the mean shear effects become essential. It is shown that, individually, neither the mean field nor the triad interaction models can accurately describe the equilibrium patterns of salt fingers in all regions of the parameter space. Therefore, we propose a new hybrid model, which represents both stabilizing effects in a single framework. The resulting solutions agree with the fully nonlinear numerical simulations over a wide range of governing parameters.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022112009992552
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