Natural convection from an isothermal vertical surface to a thermally stratified fluid is studied numerically. A wide range of stratification levels is considered. It is shown that at high levels of ambient thermal stratification, a portion at the top of the plate absorbs heat, while a horizontal plume forms around a location where the plate temperature equals the ambient temperature. The plume is shown to be inherently unsteady, and its transient nature is investigated in detail. The effect of the temperature defect in striating the plume is discussed. Average Nusselt number data are presented for Pr=6.0 and 0.7.

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