Forced stratified turbulence: successive transitions with Reynolds number.

Research paper by J-P JP Laval, J C JC McWilliams, B B Dubrulle

Indexed on: 04 Oct '03Published on: 04 Oct '03Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


Numerical simulations are made for forced turbulence at a sequence of increasing values of Reynolds number Re keeping fixed a strongly stable, volume-mean density stratification. At smaller values of Re, the turbulent velocity is mainly horizontal, and the momentum balance is approximately cyclostrophic and hydrostatic. This is a regime dominated by so-called pancake vortices, with only a weak excitation of internal gravity waves and large values of the local Richardson number Ri everywhere. At higher values of Re there are successive transitions to (a) overturning motions with local reversals in the density stratification and small or negative values of Ri; (b) growth of a horizontally uniform vertical shear flow component; and (c) growth of a large-scale vertical flow component. Throughout these transitions, pancake vortices continue to dominate the large-scale part of the turbulence, and the gravity wave component remains weak except at small scales.