Double-Diffusive Convection

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Convection can be driven several mechanisms, including temperature and concentration differences. The video above shows convection between a a layer of sucrose solution and a layer of saline solution. Initially, the lighter sucrose layer sits over the denser salt water. After the interface is perturbed, the differences in concentration – and thus in density – between the fluids causes diffusion both upward and downward in the form of fingers. This instability behavior is analogous to salt-fingering, which occurs in the ocean when a layer of warm, salty water lies over a layer of cooler, less saline water. In the ocean, these temperature and salinity differences help drive ocean circulation as well as the mixing that occurs between different depths. (Video credit: William Jewell College)

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