2D Turbulence with Complicated Boundaries

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Guillaume Roullet, University of Western Brittany, Brest, France and James C McWilliams, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, United States
We examine the consequences of lateral viscous boundary layers on the 2D turbulence that arises in domains with complicated boundaries (headlands, bays etc). The study is carried out numerically with LES. The numerics are carefully designed to ensure all global conservation laws, proper boundary conditions and a minimal range of dissipation scales. The turbulence dramatically differs from the classical bi-periodic case. Boundary layer separations lead to creation of many small vortices and act as a continuing energy source exciting the inverse cascade of energy throughout the domain. The detachments are very intermittent in time. In free decay, the final state depends on the effective numerical resolution: laminar with a single dominant vortex for low Re and turbulent with many vortices for large enough Re. After very long time, the turbulent end-state exhibits a striking tendency for the emergence of shielded vortices which then interact almost elastically. In the forced case, the boundary layers allow the turbulence to reach a statistical steady state without any artificial hypo-viscosity or other large-scale dissipation. Implications are discussed for the oceanic mesoscale and submesoscale turbulence.