The thermal convection in a vertical soap film

Jie Zhang
Department of Physics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

In normal fluids, a temperature difference can create a density difference. In the presence of the gravitational field, the denser fluid will fall and the lighter fluid will rise, causing fluid motion known as thermal convection. This type of convection can occur on different scales, from a single growing crystal to mantle movement inside the earth. Although many experiments have been conducted in unstably stratified fluids, there have been few laboratory experiments studying convective turbulence in stably stratified fluids, which is more common in nature. Here I present a two-dimensional (2D) convection in a stably stratified vertical soap film. It was found that the interaction between the gravitational potential energy, due to the 2D density fluctuation, and the kinetic energy is important. This interplay between the two energy sources manifests itself in the statistical properties of velocity and 2D density fluctuations in the system. Our experimental findings shed new lights to a turbulent system that strongly couples to a non-passive field.