The possible influence of double-diffusive stratification on the vertical transport of salt and heat in a mixed-layer simulation model for a salt gradient solar pond is examined. The study is concerned primarily with the interfacial fluxes across the boundary between the gradient zone and upper convecting zone of solar ponds, though the arguments presented should be applicable to other “diffusive” interfaces as well. In the absence of mechanical stirring in the upper convecting zone (e.g., by wind), double diffusive instabilities could govern the vertical flux of heat and salt by adjusting interfacial gradients of temperature and salinity which control transport by molecular diffusion. Because these gradients are generally too sharp to be resolved by numerical models, the fluxes can either be modeled directly or be parameterized by grid-dependent “effective diffusivities.” It is shown that when mechanical stirring is present in the mixed layer, double-diffusive instabilities will not be allowed to grow in the interfacial boundary layer region. Thus, double-diffusive fluxes become important only in the absence of stirring and, in effect, provide a lower bound to the fluxes that would be expected across the interface.

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