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Conditional statistics and flow structures in turbulent boundary layers buffeted by free-stream disturbances. (English) Zbl 1415.76413
Summary: Direct numerical simulations are performed to study zero-pressure-gradient turbulent boundary layers beneath quiescent and vortical free streams. The inflow boundary layer is computed in a precursor simulation of laminar-to-turbulence transition, and the free-stream vortical forcing is obtained from direct numerical simulations of homogeneous isotropic turbulence. A level-set approach is employed in order to objectively distinguish the boundary-layer and free-stream fluids, and to accurately evaluate their respective contributions to flow statistics. When free-stream turbulence is present, the skin friction coefficient is elevated relative to its value in the canonical boundary-layer configuration. An explanation is provided in terms of an increase in the power input into production of boundary-layer turbulence kinetic energy. This increase takes place deeper than the extent of penetration of the external perturbations towards the wall, and also despite the free-stream perturbations being void of any Reynolds shear stress. Conditional statistics demonstrate that the free-stream turbulence has two effects on the boundary layer: one direct and the other indirect. The low-frequency components of the free-stream turbulence penetrate the logarithmic layer. The associated wall-normal Reynolds stress acts against the mean shear to enhance the shear stress, which in turn enhances turbulence production. This effect directly enlarges the scale and enhances the energy of outer large-scale motions in the boundary layer. The second, indirect effect is the influence of these newly formed large-scale structures. They modulate the near-wall shear stress and, as a result, increase the turbulence kinetic energy production in the buffer layer, which is deeper than the extent of penetration of free-stream turbulence towards the wall.

76F65 Direct numerical and large eddy simulation of turbulence
76F40 Turbulent boundary layers
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