The surface layer for free-surface turbulent flows

Lian Shen, Xiang Zhang, Dick K.P. Yue, George S. Triantafyllou

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89 Scopus citations


Direct numerical simulation (DNS) b used to examine low Froude number free-surface turbulence (FST) over a two-dimensional mean shear flow. The Navier Stokes equations are solved using a finite-difference scheme with a grid resolution of 1283. Twenty separate simulations are conducted to calculate the statistics of the flow. Based on the velocity deficit and the vertical extent of the shear of the mean flow. the Reynolds number is 1000 and the Froude number is 0.7. We identify conceptually and numerically the surface layer, which is a thin region adjacent to the free surface characterized by fast variations of the horizontal vorticity components. This surface layer is caused by the dynamic zero-stress boundary conditions at the free surface arid lies inside a thicker blockage (or 'source') layer, which is due to the kinematic boundary condition at the free surface. The importance of the outer blockage layer is manifested mainly in the redistribution of the turbulence intensity, i.e. in the increase of the horizontal velocity fluctuations at the expense of the vertical velocity fluctuation. A prominent feature of FST is vortex connections to the free surface which occur inside the surface layer. It is found that as hairpin-shaped vortex structures approach the free surface, their 'head' part is dissipated quickly in the surface layer, while the two 'legs' connect almost perpendicularly to the free surface. Analysis of the evolution of surface-normal vorticity based on vortex surface-inclination angle shows that both dissipation and stretching decrease dramatically after connection. As a result, vortex structures connected to the free surface are persistent and decay slowly relative to non-connected vorticities. The effects of surface and blockage layers on the turbulence statistics of length scales, Reynolds-stress balance, and enstrophy dynamics are examined, which elucidate clearly the different turbulence mechanisms operating in the respective near-surface scales. Finally we investigate the effect of non-zero Froude number on the turbulence statistics. We show that the most significant effect of the presence of the free surface is a considerable reduction of the pressure-strain correlation at this surface, compared to that at a free-slip flat plate. This reduction is finite even for very low values of the Froude number.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-212
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 10 1999


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