Axisymmetric Tornado Simulations at High Reynolds Number

AMS Citation:
Rotunno, R., G. H. Bryan, D. S. Nolan, and N. A. Dahl, 2016: Axisymmetric Tornado Simulations at High Reynolds Number. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 73, 3843-3854, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-16-0038.1.
Resource Type:article
Title:Axisymmetric Tornado Simulations at High Reynolds Number
Abstract: This study is the first in a series that investigates the effects of turbulence in the boundary layer of a tornado vortex. In this part, axisymmetric simulations with constant viscosity are used to explore the relationships between vortex structure, intensity, and unsteadiness as functions of diffusion (measured by a Reynolds number Re-r) and rotation (measured by a swirl ratio S-r). A deep upper-level damping zone is used to prevent upper-level disturbances from affecting the low-level vortex. The damping zone is most effective when it overlaps with the specified convective forcing, causing a reduction to the effective convective velocity scale W-e. With this damping in place, the tornado-vortex boundary layer shows no sign of unsteadiness for a wide range of parameters, suggesting that turbulence in the tornado boundary layer is inherently a three-dimensional phenomenon. For high Re-r, the most intense vortices have maximum mean tangential winds well in excess of W-e, and maximum mean vertical velocity exceeds 3 times W-e. In parameter space, the most intense vortices fall along a line that follows S-r similar to Re-r(-1/3), in agreement with previous analytical predictions by Fiedler and Rotunno. These results are used to inform the design of three-dimensional large-eddy simulations in subsequent papers.
Peer Review:Refereed
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OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7hm5b4t
Publisher's Version: 10.1175/JAS-D-16-0038.1
  • Richard Rotunno - NCAR/UCAR
  • George H. Bryan - NCAR/UCAR
  • David S. Nolan
  • Nathan A. Dahl
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