A numerical, finite-difference study has been carried out to determine the effects of variable properties on the temperature and velocity fields and the heat transfer rate in a differentially heated, two-dimensional square enclosure. Calculations have been done for a Rayleigh number range up to 106, and temperature difference ratios θ0 = (TH–TC) / TC of 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0, where THand TC are the hot and cold wall temperatures, respectively. Specific issues that have been addressed are the limits of validity of the Boussinesq approximation, the proper use of a reference temperature, variable property correlation of the heat transfer rate, and the limits of conduction-dominated regions.

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