Numerical and experimental investigation of structure-function scaling in turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection

R.P.J. Kunnen, H.J.H. Clercx, B.J. Geurts, L.J.A. Bokhoven, van, R.A.D. Akkermans, R. Verzicco

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Direct numerical simulation and stereoscopic particle image velocimetry of turbulent convection are used to gather spatial data for the calculation of structure functions. We wish to add to the ongoing discussion in the literature whether temperature acts as an active or passive scalar in turbulent convection, with consequences for structure-function scaling. The simulation results show direct confirmation of the scalings derived by Bolgiano and Obukhov for turbulence with an active scalar for both velocity and temperature statistics. The active-scalar range shifts to larger scales when the forcing parameter (Rayleigh number) is increased. Furthermore, a close inspection of local turbulent length scales (Kolmogorov and Bolgiano lengths) confirms conjectures from earlier studies that the oft-used global averages are not suited for the interpretation of structure functions. In the experiment, a characterization of the domain-filling large-scale circulation of confined convection is carried out for comparison with other studies. The measured velocity fields are also used to calculate velocity structure functions, further confirming the Bolgiano-Obukhov scalings when interpreted with the local turbulent length scales found in the simulations. An extended self-similarity analysis shows that the relative scalings are different for the Kolmogorov and Bolgiano-Obukhov regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number016302
Pages (from-to)016302-1/13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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