Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 November 2016
The perspective of statistical state dynamics (SSD) has recently been applied to the study of mechanisms underlying turbulence in a variety of physical systems. An SSD is a dynamical system that evolves a representation of the statistical state of the system. An example of an SSD is the second-order cumulant closure referred to as stochastic structural stability theory (S3T), which has provided insight into the dynamics of wall turbulence, and specifically the emergence and maintenance of the roll/streak structure. S3T comprises a coupled set of equations for the streamwise mean and perturbation covariance, in which nonlinear interactions among the perturbations has been removed, restricting nonlinearity in the dynamics to that of the mean equation and the interaction between the mean and perturbation covariance. In this work, this quasi-linear restriction of the dynamics is used to study the structure and dynamics of turbulence in plane Poiseuille flow at moderately high Reynolds numbers in a closely related dynamical system, referred to as the restricted nonlinear (RNL) system. Simulations using this RNL system reveal that the essential features of wall-turbulence dynamics are retained. Consistent with previous analyses based on the S3T version of SSD, the RNL system spontaneously limits the support of its turbulence to a small set of streamwise Fourier components, giving rise to a naturally minimal representation of its turbulence dynamics. Although greatly simplified, this RNL turbulence exhibits natural-looking structures and statistics, albeit with quantitative differences from those in direct numerical simulations (DNS) of the full equations. Surprisingly, even when further truncation of the perturbation support to a single streamwise component is imposed, the RNL system continues to self-sustain turbulence with qualitatively realistic structure and dynamic properties. RNL turbulence at the Reynolds numbers studied is dominated by the roll/streak structure in the buffer layer and similar very large-scale structure (VLSM) in the outer layer. In this work, diagnostics of the structure, spectrum and energetics of RNL and DNS turbulence are used to demonstrate that the roll/streak dynamics supporting the turbulence in the buffer and logarithmic layer is essentially similar in RNL and DNS.
Present address: Center for Turbulence Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.