Kirby James T.

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James T.

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  • Article
    On nonhydrostatic coastal model simulations of shear instabilities in a stratified shear flow at high Reynolds number
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-04-11) Zhou, Zheyu ; Yu, Xiao ; Hsu, Tian-Jian ; Shi, Fengyan ; Geyer, W. Rockwell ; Kirby, James T.
    The nonhydrostatic surface and terrain-following coastal model NHWAVE is utilized to simulate a continually forced stratified shear flow in a straight channel, which is a generic problem to test the existing nonhydrostatic coastal models' capability in resolving shear instabilities in the field scale. The resolved shear instabilities in the shear layer has a Reynolds number of about 1.4 × 106, which is comparable to field observed value. Using the standard Smagorinsky closure with a grid size close to the Ozmidov length scale, simulation results show that the resolved energy cascade exceeds 1 order of magnitude and the evolution and turbulent mixing characteristics are predicted well. Two different approaches are used to estimate the turbulent dissipation rate, namely using the resolved turbulent energy spectrum and the parameterized subgrid turbulent dissipation rate, and the predicted results provide the upper and lower bounds that encompass the measured values. Model results show significantly higher turbulence in braids of shear instabilities, which is similar to field observations while both the subgrid turbulent dissipation rate and resolved vorticity field can be used as surrogates for measured high acoustic backscatter signals. Simulation results also reveal that the surface velocity divergence/convergence is an effective identifier for the front of the density current and the shear instabilities. To guide future numerical studies in more realistic domains, an evaluation on the effects of different grid resolutions and subgrid viscosity on the resolved flow field and subgrid dissipation rate are discussed.