This paper reports experimental observations on transient natural convection in enclosures at high Rayleigh numbers (1.28×109, 1.49×109) and low aspect ratios (0.0625, 0.112). The phenomenon consists of the establishment of thin intrusion layers along the horizontal adiabatic surfaces; in time, the intrusion layers exchange heat with the isothermal core of the cavity, leading to the thermal stratification of the core. The approach to steady state is gradual, contrary to the theoretical prediction of Brunt-Vaisala wave motion (Patterson and Imberger [6]). The measured durations of the observed transients agree very well with theoretical estimates.

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