Convection is the concerted, collective movement of ensembles of molecules within fluids (e.g., liquids, gases) and rheids. Convection of mass cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids. Diffusion of heat can take place in solids, but is referred to separately in that case as heat conduction. A good model for convection is when you take a heat source (e.g. Bunsen burner) and place it at any side of a glass full of a liquid, you then can feel the different levels of heat in the glass.
Convective heat transfer is one of the major modes of heat transfer and convection is also a major mode of mass transfer in fluids. Convective heat and mass transfer take place through both diffusion – the random Brownian motion of individual particles in the fluid – and by advection, in which matter or heat is transported by the larger-scale motion of currents in the fluid. In the context of heat and mass transfer, the term "convection" is used to refer to the sum of advective and diffusive transfer.[
Note that in common use the term convection may refer loosely to heat transfer by convection, as opposed to mass transfer by convection, or the convection process in general. Sometimes "convection" is even used to refer specifically to "free heat convection" (natural heat convection), as opposed to forced heat convection. However, in mechanics the correct use of the word is the general sense, and different types of convection should be properly qualified for clarity.
Convection can be qualified in terms of being natural, forced, gravitational, granular, or thermomagnetic. It may also be said to be due to combustion, capillary action, or Marangoni and Weissenberg effects. Due to its role in heat transfer, natural convection plays a role in the structure of Earth's atmosphere, its oceans, and its mantle. Discrete convective cells in the atmosphere can be seen as clouds, with stronger convection resulting in thunderstorms. Natural convection also plays a role in stellar physics.