Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Research article
31 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 31 Oct 2011

A possible theory for the interaction between convective activities and vortical flows

N. Zhao, X. Y. Shen, Y. H. Ding, and M. Takahashi

Abstract. Theoretical studies usually attribute convections to the developments of instabilities such as the static or symmetric instabilities of the basic flows. However, the following three facts make the validities of these basic theories unconvincing. First, it seems that in most cases the basic flow with balance property cannot exist as the exact solution, so one cannot formulate appropriate problems of stability. Second, neither linear nor nonlinear theories of dynamical instability are able to describe a two-way interaction between convection and its background, because the basic state which must be an exact solution of the nonlinear equations of motion is prescribed in these issues. And third, the dynamical instability needs some extra initial disturbance to trigger it, which is usually another point of uncertainty. The present study suggests that convective activities can be recognized in the perspective of the interaction of convection with vortical flow. It is demonstrated that convective activities can be regarded as the superposition of free modes of convection and the response to the forcing induced by the imbalance of the unstably stratified vortical flow. An imbalanced vortical flow provides not only an initial condition from which unstable free modes of convection can develop but also a forcing on the convection. So, convection is more appropriately to be regarded as a spontaneous phenomenon rather than a disturbance-triggered phenomenon which is indicated by any theory of dynamical instability. Meanwhile, convection, particularly the forced part, has also a reaction on the basic flow by preventing the imbalance of the vortical flow from further increase and maintaining an approximately balanced flow.