Rare fluctuations and large-scale circulation cessations in turbulent convection

Michael Assaf*, Luiza Angheluta, Nigel Goldenfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection, a large-scale circulation (LSC) develops in a nearly vertical plane and is maintained by rising and falling plumes detaching from the unstable thermal boundary layers. Rare but large fluctuations in the LSC amplitude can lead to extinction of the LSC (a cessation event), followed by the reemergence of another LSC with a different (random) azimuthal orientation. We extend previous models of the LSC dynamics to include momentum and thermal diffusion in the azimuthal plane and calculate the tails of the probability distributions of both the amplitude and azimuthal angle. Our analytical results are in very good agreement with the experimental data.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number044502
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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