Direct numerical simulations of 2D turbulent flows, freely decaying as well as forced, are performed to examine the mechanism of the enstrophy cascade and serve as a template of developing LES models. The stretching effect on the 2D vorticity gradients is emphasized on the analogy of the stretching effect on 3D vorticity. The enstrophy cascade rate, the Reynolds stresses and the associated eddy viscosity for 2D turbulence are correspondingly derived and investigated. Proposed herein is that the enstrophy cascade rate to be modeled in a large-eddy simulation can be and should be calculated using the only available large-eddy information, especially when the Reynolds number is not very large or when the flow is not stationary.
The simulation results suggest all Kolmogorov's, Kraichnan's, and Saffman's similarity spectra. The Kolmogorov's spectrum appears in front of forced wave numbers and creates a subrange of a zero enstrophy cascade rate and a constant energy cascade rate. The Saffman's spectrum is the dissipation spectrum at large wave numbers. Kraichnan's spectrum shows up at intermediate wave numbers when the Reynolds number is sufficiently high. When the Smagorinsky model is employed for a large eddy simulation, its inability of capturing the significant reverse cascade phenomenon as observed in the DNS data becomes a fatal defect. Nonetheless, if only the mean cascade rate is concerned, the required Smagorinsky constant is evaluated using the DNS data and compared with the theoretical prediction of the Kraichnan's spectrum.