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Bifurcation analysis of confined salt-finger convection using single-mode equations obtained from a severely truncated Fourier expansion in the horizontal is performed. Strongly nonlinear staircase-like solutions having, respectively, one (S1), two (S2) and three (S3) regions of mixed salinity in the vertical direction are computed using numerical continuation, and their stability properties are determined. Near onset, the one-layer S1 solution is stable and corresponds to maximum salinity transport among the three solutions. The S2 and S3 solutions are unstable but exert an influence on the statistics observed in direct numerical simulations (DNS) in larger two-dimensional (2-D) domains. Secondary bifurcations of S1 lead either to tilted-finger (TF1) or to travelling wave (TW1) solutions, both accompanied by the spontaneous generation of large-scale shear, a process favoured for lower density ratios and Prandtl numbers ( $Pr$ ). These states at low $Pr$ are associated, respectively, with two-layer and three-layer staircase-like salinity profiles in the mean. States breaking reflection symmetry in the midplane are also computed. In two dimensions and for low $Pr$ , the DNS results favour direction-reversing tilted fingers resembling the pulsating wave state observed in other systems. Two-layer and three-layer mean salinity profiles corresponding to reversing tilted fingers and TW1 are observed in 2-D DNS averaged over time. The single-mode solutions close to the high wavenumber onset are in an excellent agreement with 2-D DNS in small horizontal domains and compare well with 3-D DNS.more » « less
This work employs single-mode equations to study convection and double-diffusive convection in a porous medium where the Darcy law provides large-scale damping. We first consider thermal convection with salinity as a passive scalar. The single-mode solutions resembling steady convection rolls reproduce the qualitative behavior of root-mean-square and mean temperature profiles of time-dependent states at high Rayleigh numbers from direct numerical simulations (DNS). We also show that the single-mode solutions are consistent with the heat-exchanger model that describes well the mean temperature gradient in the interior. The Nusselt number predicted from the single-mode solutions exhibits a scaling law with Rayleigh number close to that followed by exact 2D steady convection rolls, although large aspect ratio DNS results indicate a faster increase. However, the single-mode solutions at a high wavenumber predict Nusselt numbers close to the DNS results in narrow domains. We also employ the single-mode equations to analyze the influence of active salinity, introducing a salinity contribution to the buoyancy, but with a smaller diffusivity than the temperature. The single-mode solutions are able to capture the stabilizing effect of an imposed salinity gradient and describe the standing and traveling wave behaviors observed in DNS. The Sherwood numbers obtained from single-mode solutions show a scaling law with the Lewis number that is close to the DNS computations with passive or active salinity. This work demonstrates that single-mode solutions can be successfully applied to this system whenever periodic or no-flux boundary conditions apply in the horizontal.more » « less