Dynamics of turbulence under the effect of stratification and internal waves
Abstract. The objective of this paper is to study the dynamics of small-scale turbulence near a pycnocline, both in the free regime and under the action of an internal gravity wave (IW) propagating along a pycnocline, using direct numerical simulation (DNS). Turbulence is initially induced in a horizontal layer at some distance above the pycnocline. The velocity and density fields of IWs propagating in the pycnocline are also prescribed as an initial condition. The IW wavelength is considered to be larger by the order of magnitude as compared to the initial turbulence integral length scale. Stratification in the pycnocline is considered to be sufficiently strong so that the effects of turbulent mixing remain negligible. The dynamics of turbulence is studied both with and without an initially induced IW. The DNS results show that, in the absence of an IW, turbulence decays, but its decay rate is reduced in the vicinity of the pycnocline, where stratification effects are significant. In this case, at sufficiently late times, most of the turbulent energy is located in a layer close to the pycnocline center. Here, turbulent eddies are collapsed in the vertical direction and acquire the "pancake" shape. IW modifies turbulence dynamics, in that the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) is significantly enhanced as compared to the TKE in the absence of IW. As in the case without IW, most of the turbulent energy is localized in the vicinity of the pycnocline center. Here, the TKE spectrum is considerably enhanced in the entire wave-number range as compared to the TKE spectrum in the absence of IW.