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Large-scale modes of turbulent channel flow: transport and structure. (English) Zbl 1102.76314
Turbulent flow in a rectangular channel is investigated to determine the scale and pattern of the eddies that contribute most to the total turbulent kinetic energy and the Reynolds shear stress. Instantaneous, two-dimensional particle image velocimeter measurements in the streamwise-wall-normal plane at Reynolds numbers \(Re_h = 5378\) and 29 935 are used to form two-point spatial correlation functions, from which the proper orthogonal modes are determined. Large-scale motions – having length scales of the order of the channel width and represented by a small set of low-order eigenmodes – contain a large fraction of the kinetic energy of the streamwise velocity component and a small fraction of the kinetic energy of the wall-normal velocities. Surprisingly, the set of large-scale modes that contains half of the total turbulent kinetic energy in the channel, also contains two-thirds to three-quarters of the total Reynolds shear stress in the outer region. Thus, it is the large-scale motions, rather than the main turbulent motions, that dominate turbulent transport in all parts of the channel except the buffer layer. Samples of the large-scale structures associated with the dominant eigenfunctions are found by projecting individual realizations onto the dominant modes. In the streamwise wall-normal plane their patterns often consist of an inclined region of second quadrant vectors separated from an upstream region of fourth quadrant vectors by a stagnation point/shear layer. The inclined Q4/shear layer/Q2 region of the largest motions extends beyond the centreline of the channel and lies under a region of fluid that rotates about the spanwise direction. This pattern is very similar to the signature of a hairpin vortex. Reynolds number similarity of the large structures is demonstrated, approximately, by comparing the two-dimensional correlation coefficients and the eigenvalues of the different modes at the two Reynolds numbers.

76F25 Turbulent transport, mixing
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