Layered flows that are commonly observed in stratified turbulence are susceptible to the Taylor–Caulfield Instability. While the modal stability properties of layered shear flows have been examined, the non-modal growth of perturbations has not been investigated. In this work, the tools of Generalized Stability Theory are utilized to study linear transient growth within a finite time interval of two-dimensional perturbations in an inviscid, three-layer constant shear flow under the Boussinesq approximation. It is found that, for low optimization times, small-scale perturbations utilize the Orr mechanism and achieve growth equal to that in the case of an unstratified flow. For larger optimization times, transient growth is much larger compared to growth for an unstratified flow as the Kelvin–Orr waves comprising the continuous spectrum of the dynamical operator and the gravity edge-waves comprising the discrete spectrum interact synergistically. Maximum growth is obtained for perturbations with scales within the region of instability, but significant growth is maintained for modally stable perturbations as well. For perturbations with scales within the unstable region, the unstable normal modes are excited at high amplitude by their bi-orthogonals. For perturbations with modally stable scales, the Orr mechanism is utilized to excite at high amplitude neutral propagating waves resembling the neutral Taylor–Caulfield modes.
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