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Passive scalar statistics in high-Péclet-number grid turbulence

  • L. MYDLARSKI (a1) and Z. WARHAFT (a1)


The statistics of a turbulent passive scalar (temperature) and their Reynolds number dependence are studied in decaying grid turbulence for the Taylor-microscale Reynolds number, Rλ, varying from 30 to 731 (21[les ]Peλ[les ]512). A principal objective is, using a single (and simple) flow, to bridge the gap between the existing passive grid-generated low-Péclet-number laboratory experiments and those done at high Péclet number in the atmosphere and oceans. The turbulence is generated by means of an active grid and the passive temperature fluctuations are generated by a mean transverse temperature gradient, formed at the entrance to the wind tunnel plenum chamber by an array of differentially heated elements. A well-defined inertial–convective scaling range for the scalar with a slope, nθ, close to the Obukhov–Corrsin value of 5/3, is observed for all Reynolds numbers. This is in sharp contrast with the velocity field, in which a 5/3 slope is only approached at high Rλ. The Obukhov–Corrsin constant, Cθ, is estimated to be 0.45–0.55. Unlike the velocity spectrum, a bump occurs in the spectrum of the scalar at the dissipation scales, with increasing prominence as the Reynolds number is increased. A scaling range for the heat flux cospectrum was also observed, but with a slope around 2, less than the 7/3 expected from scaling theory. Transverse structure functions of temperature exist at the third and fifth orders, and, as for even-order structure functions, the width of their inertial subranges dilates with Reynolds number in a systematic way. As previously shown for shear flows, the existence of these odd-order structure functions is a violation of local isotropy for the scalar differences, as is the existence of non-zero values of the transverse temperature derivative skewness (of order unity) and hyperskewness (of order 100). The ratio of the temperature derivative standard deviation along and normal to the gradient is 1.2±0.1, and is independent of Reynolds number. The refined similarity hypothesis for the passive scalar was found to hold for all Rλ, which was not the case for the velocity field. The intermittency exponent for the scalar, μθ, was found to be 0.25±0.05 with a possible weak Rλ dependence, unlike the velocity field, where μ was a strong function of Reynolds number. New, higher-Reynolds-number results for the velocity field, which smoothly follow the trends of Mydlarski & Warhaft (1996), are also presented.


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