We consider transport of a passive scalar by an isotropic turbulent velocity field in the presence of a mean scalar gradient. The velocity–scalar cospectrum measures the distribution of the mean scalar flux across scales. An inequality is shown to bound the magnitude of the cospectrum in terms of the shell-summed energy and scalar spectra. At high Schmidt number, this bound limits the possible contribution of the sub-Kolmogorov scales to the scalar flux. At low Schmidt number, we derive an asymptotic result for the cospectrum in the inertial–diffusive range, with a $-11/3$ power law wavenumber dependence, and a comparison is made with results from large-eddy simulation. The sparse direct-interaction perturbation (SDIP) is used to calculate the cospectrum for a range of Schmidt numbers. The Lumley scaling result is recovered in the inertial–convective range and the constant of proportionality was calculated. At high Schmidt numbers, the cospectrum is found to decay exponentially in the viscous–convective range, and at low Schmidt numbers, the $-11/3$ power law is observed in the inertial–diffusive range. Results are reported for the cospectrum from a direct numerical simulation at a Taylor Reynolds number of 265, and a comparison is made at Schmidt number order unity between theory, simulation and experiment.
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