The onset of convection due to a nonlinear and time-dependent temperature stratification in a saturated porous medium with upper and lower free surfaces is considered. The initial parabolic temperature distribution is due to uniform internal heating. The medium is then cooled by decreasing the upper surface temperature linearly with time. Linear stability theory is applied to the more formally developed governing equations. In order to obtain an asymptotic solution for transient problems involving very long time scales, the critical Rayleigh number for steady-state, nonlinear temperature distribution is also obtained. The effects of porosity, permeability, and Prandtl number on the time of the onset of convection are examined. The steady-state results show that the critical Rayleigh number depends only on the ratio of porosity to permeability and when this ratio exceeds a value of one thousand, the critical Rayleigh number is directly proportional to this ratio.

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