Natural convection is investigated numerically and experimentally in a cylindrical annulus. The governing equations based on primitive variables are solved using Chorin’s method. In addition to the unicellular flows reported in the literature, depending on initial conditions, bicellular flows are observed for high Rayleigh numbers. The bifurcation point is determined numerically. The velocity field for unicellular flows is measured by laser-Doppler anemometry in an air-filled annulus. A perturbation solution is also presented. The experimental results are in good agreement with numerical predictions and the perturbation solution.

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