Helicity dynamics in stratified turbulence in the absence of forcing

AMS Citation:
Rorai, C., D. Rosenberg, A. Pouquet, and P. D. Mininni, 2013: Helicity dynamics in stratified turbulence in the absence of forcing. Physical Review E, 87, 13 pp, doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.87.063007.
Resource Type:article
Title:Helicity dynamics in stratified turbulence in the absence of forcing
Abstract: A numerical study of decaying stably stratified flows is performed. Relatively high stratification (Froude number 10-2-10-1) and moderate Reynolds (Re) numbers (Re- 3-6×103) are considered and a particular emphasis is placed on the role of helicity (velocity-vorticity correlations), which is not an invariant of the nondissipative equations. The problem is tackled by integrating the Boussinesq equations in a periodic cubical domain using different initial conditions: a nonhelical Taylor-Green (TG) flow, a fully helical Beltrami [Arnold-Beltrami-Childress (ABC)] flow, and random flows with a tunable helicity. We show that for stratified ABC flows helicity undergoes a substantially slower decay than for unstratified ABC flows. This fact is likely associated to the combined effect of stratification and large-scale coherent structures. Indeed, when the latter are missing, as in random flows, helicity is rapidly destroyed by the onset of gravitational waves. A type of large-scale dissipative "cyclostrophic" balance can be invoked to explain this behavior. No production of helicity is observed, contrary to the case of rotating and stratified flows. When helicity survives in the system, it strongly affects the temporal energy decay and the energy distribution among Fourier modes. We discover in fact that the decay rate of energy for stratified helical flows is much slower than for stratified nonhelical flows and can be considered with a phenomenological model in a way similar to what is done for unstratified rotating flows. We also show that helicity, when strong, has a measurable effect on the Fourier spectra, in particular at scales larger than the buoyancy scale, for which it displays a rather flat scaling associated with vertical shear, as observed in the planetary boundary layer.
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2013 American Physical Society.
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7x63ntb
Publisher's Version: 10.1103/PhysRevE.87.063007
  • Cecilia Rorai - NCAR/UCAR
  • D. Rosenberg
  • Annick Pouquet - NCAR/UCAR
  • Pablo Mininni - NCAR/UCAR
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