Robustness of the inverse cascade in two-dimensional turbulence

Chuong Van Tran, John C Bowman

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40 Citations (Scopus)


We study quasisteady inverse cascades in unbounded and bounded two-dimensional turbulence driven by time-independent injection and dissipated by molecular viscosity. It is shown that an inverse cascade that carries only a fraction r of the energy input to the largest scales requires the enstrophy-range energy spectrum to be steeper than k-5 (ruling out a direct cascade) unless 1-r≪1. A direct cascade requires the presence of an inverse cascade that carries virtually all energy to the largest scales (1-r≪1). These facts underlie the robustness of the Kolmogorov-Kraichnan k-5/3 inverse cascade, which is readily observable in numerical simulations without an accompanying direct enstrophy cascade. We numerically demonstrate an instance where the k-5/3 inverse-cascading range is realizable with 79% of the energy injection dissipated within the energy range and virtually all of the enstrophy dissipated in the vicinity of the forcing region. As equilibrium is approached, the respective logarithmic slopes -α and -β of the ranges of wave numbers lower and higher than the forcing wave number satisfy α+β≈8. These results are consistent with recent theoretical predictions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036303
JournalPhysical Review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


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