Study of wave effect on vorticity in Langmuir turbulence using wave-phase-resolved large-eddy simulation

Anqing Xuan, Bing Qing Deng, Lian Shen

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12 Scopus citations


The effects of a water surface wave on the vorticity in the turbulence underneath are studied for Langmuir turbulence using wave-phase-resolved large-eddy simulation. The simulations are performed on a dynamically evolving wave-surface-fitted grid such that the phase-resolved wave motions and their effects on the turbulence are explicitly captured. This study focuses on the vorticity structures and dynamics in Langmuir turbulence driven by a steady and co-aligned progressive wave and surface shear stress. For the first time, the detailed vorticity dynamics of the wave-turbulence interaction in Langmuir turbulence in a wave-phase-resolved frame is revealed. The wave-phase-resolved simulation provides detailed descriptions of many characteristic features of Langmuir turbulence, such as elongated quasi-streamwise vortices. The simulation also reveals the variation of the strength and the inclination angles of the vortices with the wave phase. The variation is found to be caused by the periodic stretching and tilting of the wave orbital straining motions. The cumulative effect of the wave on the wave-phase-averaged vorticity is analysed using the Lagrangian average. It is discovered that, in addition to the tilting effect induced by the Lagrangian mean shear gradient of the wave, the phase correlation between the vorticity fluctuations and the wave orbital straining is also important to the cumulative vorticity evolution. Both the fluctuation correlation effect and the mean tilting effect are found to amplify the streamwise vorticity. On the other hand, for the vertical vorticity, the fluctuation correlation effect cancels the mean tilting effect, and the net change of the vertical vorticity by the wave straining is negligible. As a result, the wave straining enhances only the streamwise vorticity and cumulatively tilts vertical vortices towards the streamwise direction. The above processes are further quantified analytically. The role of the fluctuation correlation effect in the wave-phase-averaged vorticity dynamics provides a deeper understanding of the physical processes underlying the wave-turbulence interaction in Langmuir turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-224
Number of pages52
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation and Minnesota Sea Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Cambridge University Press.


  • ocean processes
  • wave-turbulence interactions


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