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Cascades and wall-normal fluxes in turbulent channel flows

Cimarelli, A., De Angelis, E. ORCID:, Jimenez, J. and Casciola, C. M. 2016. Cascades and wall-normal fluxes in turbulent channel flows. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 796 , pp. 417-436. 10.1017/jfm.2016.275

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The present work describes the multidimensional behaviour of scale-energy production, transfer and dissipation in wall-bounded turbulent flows. This approach allows us to understand the cascade mechanisms by which scale energy is transmitted scale-by-scale among different regions of the flow. Two driving mechanisms are identified. A strong scale-energy source in the buffer layer related to the near-wall cycle and an outer scale-energy source associated with an outer turbulent cycle in the overlap layer. These two sourcing mechanisms lead to a complex redistribution of scale energy where spatially evolving reverse and forward cascades coexist. From a hierarchy of spanwise scales in the near-wall region generated through a reverse cascade and local turbulent generation processes, scale energy is transferred towards the bulk, flowing through the attached scales of motion, while among the detached scales it converges towards small scales, still ascending towards the channel centre. The attached scales of wall-bounded turbulence are then recognized to sustain a spatial reverse cascade process towards the bulk flow. On the other hand, the detached scales are involved in a direct forward cascade process that links the scale-energy excess at large attached scales with dissipation at the smaller scales of motion located further away from the wall. The unexpected behaviour of the fluxes and of the turbulent generation mechanisms may have strong repercussions on both theoretical and modelling approaches to wall turbulence. Indeed, actual turbulent flows are shown here to have a much richer physics with respect to the classical notion of turbulent cascade, where anisotropic production and inhomogeneous fluxes lead to a complex redistribution of energy where a spatial reverse cascade plays a central role.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: T Technology > TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0022-1120
Funders: European Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 May 2016
Date of Acceptance: 13 April 2016
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 00:25

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