Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Turbulence dynamics near a turbulent/non-turbulent interface

M. A. C. Teixeiraa1 c1 and C. B. da Silvaa2

a1 CGUL, IDL, University of Lisbon, Edifício C8, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal

a2 IDMEC, IST, Technical University of Lisbon, Pav. Mecânica I, 1° andar/esq./LASEF, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal


The characteristics of the boundary layer separating a turbulence region from an irrotational (or non-turbulent) flow region are investigated using rapid distortion theory (RDT). The turbulence region is approximated as homogeneous and isotropic far away from the bounding turbulent/non-turbulent (T/NT) interface, which is assumed to remain approximately flat. Inviscid effects resulting from the continuity of the normal velocity and pressure at the interface, in addition to viscous effects resulting from the continuity of the tangential velocity and shear stress, are taken into account by considering a sudden insertion of the T/NT interface, in the absence of mean shear. Profiles of the velocity variances, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE), viscous dissipation rate ($\varepsilon $), turbulence length scales, and pressure statistics are derived, showing an excellent agreement with results from direct numerical simulations (DNS). Interestingly, the normalized inviscid flow statistics at the T/NT interface do not depend on the form of the assumed TKE spectrum. Outside the turbulent region, where the flow is irrotational (except inside a thin viscous boundary layer), $\varepsilon $ decays as ${z}^{\ensuremath{-} 6} $, where $z$ is the distance from the T/NT interface. The mean pressure distribution is calculated using RDT, and exhibits a decrease towards the turbulence region due to the associated velocity fluctuations, consistent with the generation of a mean entrainment velocity. The vorticity variance and $\varepsilon $ display large maxima at the T/NT interface due to the inviscid discontinuities of the tangential velocity variances existing there, and these maxima are quantitatively related to the thickness $\delta $ of the viscous boundary layer (VBL). For an equilibrium VBL, the RDT analysis suggests that $\delta \ensuremath{\sim} \eta $ (where $\eta $ is the Kolmogorov microscale), which is consistent with the scaling law identified in a very recent DNS study for shear-free T/NT interfaces.

(Received February 12 2011)

(Reviewed December 09 2011)

(Accepted December 22 2011)

(Online publication February 13 2012)

Key Words:

  • isotropic turbulence;
  • turbulence modelling;
  • turbulence theory


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