Numerical Investigation of Rotating and Stratified Turbulence

Respondent Huvudhandledare Bihandledare Datum
Enrico Deusebio Erik Lindborg 2012-06-15

Johan Nilsson, Meteorologiska Inst. SU



Atmospheric and oceanic flows are strongly affected by rotation and stratification. Rotation is exerted through Coriolis forces which mainly act in horizontal planes whereas stratification largely affects the motion along the vertical direction through buoyancy forces, the latters related to the vertical variation of the fluid density. Aiming at a better understanding of atmospheric and oceanic processes, in this thesis the properties of turbulence in rotating and stably stratified flows are studied by means of numerical simulations, with and without the presence of solid walls. A new code is developed in order to carry out high-resolution numerical simulations of geostrophic turbulence forced at large scales. The code was heavily parallelized with MPI (Message Passing Interface) in order to be run on massively parallel computers. The main problem which has been investigated is how the turbulent cascade is affected by the presence of strong but finite rotation and stratification. As opposed to the early theories in the field of geostrophic turbulence, we show that there is a forward energy cascade which is initiated at large scales. The contribution of this process to the general dynamic is secondary at large scales but becomes dominant at smaller scales where leads to a shallowing of the energy spectrum. Despite the idealized set-up of the simulations, two-point statistics show remarkable agreement with measurements in the atmosphere, suggesting that this process may be an important mechanism for energy transfer in the atmosphere. The effect of stratification in wall-bounded turbulence is investigated by means of direct numerical simulations of open-channel flows. An existing full-channel code was modified in order to optimize the grid in the vertical direction and avoid the clustering of grid points at the upper boundary, where the solid wall is replaced by a free-shear condition. The stable stratification which results from a cooling applied at the solid wall largely affects the outer structures of the boundary layer, whereas the near-wall structures appear to be mostly unchanged. The effect of gravity waves is also studied, and a new decomposition is introduced in order to separate the gravity wave field from the turbulent field.
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