Statistics and geometry of passive scalars in turbulence

Joerg Schumacher, Katepalli R. Sreenivasan

Submitted on 21 October 2005


We present direct numerical simulations (DNS) of the mixing of the passive scalar at modest Reynolds numbers (10 =< R_\lambda =< 42) and Schmidt numbers larger than unity (2 =< Sc =< 32). The simulations resolve below the Batchelor scale up to a factor of four. The advecting turbulence is homogeneous and isotropic, and maintained stationary by stochastic forcing at low wavenumbers. The passive scalar is rendered stationary by a mean scalar gradient in one direction. The relation between geometrical and statistical properties of scalar field and its gradients is examined. The Reynolds numbers and Schmidt numbers are not large enough for either the Kolmogorov scaling or the Batchelor scaling to develop and, not surprisingly, we find no fractal scaling of scalar level sets, or isosurfaces, in the intermediate viscous range. The area-to-volume ratio of isosurfaces reflects the nearly Gaussian statistics of the scalar fluctuations. The scalar flux across the isosurfaces, which is determined by the conditional probability density function (PDF) of the scalar gradient magnitude, has a stretched exponential distribution towards the tails. The PDF of the scalar dissipation departs distinctly, for both small and large amplitudes, from the lognormal distribution for all cases considered. The joint statistics of the scalar and its dissipation rate, and the mean conditional moment of the scalar dissipation, are studied as well. We examine the effects of coarse-graining on the probability density to simulate the effects of poor probe-resolution in measurements.


Comment: 13 pages, 10 Postscript figures (2 with reduced quality)

Subjects: Nonlinear Sciences - Chaotic Dynamics; Astrophysics; Physics - Fluid Dynamics