Parameters for the collapse of turbulence in the stratified plane Couette flow

Ivo G.S. van Hooijdonk, Herman J.H. Clercx, Cedrick Ansorge, Arnold F. Moene, Bas J.H. van de Wiel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


We perform direct numerical simulation of the Couette flow as a model for the stable boundary layer. The flow evolution is investigated for combinations of the (bulk) Reynolds number and the imposed surface buoyancy flux. First, we establish what the similarities and differences are between applying a fixed buoyancy difference (Dirichlet) and a fixed buoyancy flux (Neumann) as boundary conditions. Moreover, two distinct parameters were recently proposed for the turbulent-to-laminar transition: the Reynolds number based on the Obukhov length and the "shear capacity," a velocity-scale ratio based on the buoyancy flux maximum. We study how these parameters relate to each other and to the atmospheric boundary layer. The results show that in a weakly stratified equilibrium state, the flow statistics are virtually the same between the different types of boundary conditions. However, at stronger stratification and, more generally, in nonequilibrium conditions, the flow statistics do depend on the type of boundary condition imposed. In the case of Neumann boundary conditions, a clear sensitivity to the initial stratification strength is observed because of the existence of multiple equilibriums, while for Dirichlet boundary conditions, only one statistically steady turbulent equilibrium exists for a particular set of boundary conditions. As in previous studies, we find that when the imposed surface flux is larger than the maximum buoyancy flux, no turbulent steady state occurs. Analytical investigation and simulation data indicate that this maximum buoyancy flux converges for increasing Reynolds numbers, which suggests a possible extrapolation to the atmospheric case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3211-3231
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Boundary conditions
  • Boundary layer
  • Numerical analysis/modeling
  • Turbulence


Dive into the research topics of 'Parameters for the collapse of turbulence in the stratified plane Couette flow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this