- American Physical Society
Magnetohydrodynamic Rayleigh-Bénard convection was studied experimentally and numerically using a liquid metal inside a box with a square horizontal cross section and an aspect ratio of 5. Applying a sufficiently strong horizontal magnetic field converts the convective motion into a flow pattern of quasi-two-dimensional (quasi-2D) rolls arranged parallel to the magnetic field. The aim of this paper is to provide a detailed description of the flow field, which is often considered as quasi-2D. In this paper, we focus on the transition from a quasi-two-dimensional state toward a three-dimensional flow occurring with decreasing magnetic-field strength. We present systematic flow measurements that were performed by means of ultrasound Doppler velocimetry. The measured data provide insight into the dynamics of the primary convection rolls, the secondary flow induced by Ekman pumping, and they reveal the existence of small vortices that develop around the convection rolls. New flow regimes have been identified by the velocity measurements, which show a pronounced manifestation of three-dimensional flow structures as the ratio Ra/Q increases. The interaction between the primary swirling motion of the convection rolls and the secondary flow becomes increasingly strong. Significant bulging of the convection rolls causes a breakdown of the original recirculation loop driven by Ekman pumping into several smaller cells. The flow measurements are completed by direct numerical simulations. The numerical simulations have proven to be able to qualitatively reproduce the newly discovered flow regimes in the experiment.
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