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The decay of turbulence in thermally stratified flow

  • J. H. Lienhard V (a1) and C. W. Van Atta (a2)

Abstract

The decay of grid-generated turbulence in the presence of strong thermal stratification is studied in a continuously stratified, open-loop wind tunnel at Brunt–Väisälä frequencies up to 2.5s−1. The data include one-point statistical measurements through moments of fourth order and associated power- and cross-spectra. Cross-channel phase measurements are used to analyse the scales of correlation of velocity and temperature. The present data are considerably more coherent than previous salt-stratified data, and the structural form of stratified turbulence is thus more clearly manifested. No internal wave effects are observed at any stage of the decay. Stratified turbulence is found to be a two-scale process dominated by buoyancy forces at large scales of motion and dissipative effects at small scales. The two-scale structure is used to develop universal buoyancy scalings for the decay of the vertical heat flux, the scalar variance, and the molecular dissipation rates, and, in particular, for the vertical velocity decay. Velocity and temperature spectra satisfy universal equilibrium scaling at high wavenumbers, but show buoyancy effects at small wavenumbers. The flow remains isotropic at high wavenumbers over the entire range of turbulent decay studied. Cospectral and phase data are used to validate the two-scale model of the turbulence. The flow may show large-scale restratification while active turbulence persists at smaller scales, so that the vanishing of the vertical transport does not represent extinction of turbulent motion. Additionally, an original universal equilibrium scaling is developed for the cross-spectrum. Lengthscale evolution is measured, and the overturning and buoyancy lengthscales (associated with potential and kinetic energy, respectively) are found to characterize flow development. The role of the Prandtl number is assessed by comparison to previous works, and the Prandtl number is found to have a significant influence upon stratified turbulence evolution.

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The decay of turbulence in thermally stratified flow

  • J. H. Lienhard V (a1) and C. W. Van Atta (a2)

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