Thermohaline layering in dynamically and diffusively stable shear flows
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In this study we examine two-component shear flows that are stable with respect to Kelvin-Helmholtz and to double-diffusive instabilities individually. Our focus is on the diffusively stratified ocean regions, where relatively warm and salty water-masses are located below cool and fresh. It is shown that such systems may be destabilized by the interplay between shear and thermohaline effects, caused by unequal molecular diffusivities of density components. Linear stability analysis suggests that parallel two-component flows can be unstable for Richardson numbers exceeding the critical value for non-dissipative systems ( Ri=¼ ) by up to four orders of magnitude. Direct numerical simulations indicate that these instabilities transform the initially linear density stratification into a series of well-defined horizontal layers.