Nonlinearity 9 (1996) 311-351. doi:10.1088/0951-7715/9/2/003

Analysis of the shearing instability in nonlinear convection and magnetoconvection

A.M.Rucklidge and P.C. Matthews

Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics,
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB3 9EW, UK

Abstract. Numerical experiments on two-dimensional convection with or without a vertical magnetic field reveal a bewildering variety of periodic and aperiodic oscillations. Steady rolls can develop a shearing instability, in which rolls turning over in one direction grow at the expense of rolls turning over in the other, resulting in a net shear across the layer. As the temperature difference across the fluid is increased, two-dimensional pulsating waves occur, in which the direction of shear alternates. We analyse the nonlinear dynamics of this behaviour by first constructing appropriate low-order sets of ordinary differential equations, which show the same behaviour, and then analysing the global bifurcations that lead to these oscillations by constructing one-dimensional return maps. We compare the behaviour of the partial differential equations, the models and the maps in systematic two-parameter studies of both the magnetic and the non-magnetic cases, emphasising how the symmetries of periodic solutions change as a result of global bifurcations. Much of the interesting behaviour is associated with a discontinuous change in the leading direction of a fixed point at a global bifurcation; this change occurs when the magnetic field is introduced.

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