Observational and Numerical Modeling Studies of Turbulence on the Texas-Louisiana Continental Shelf
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Turbulent dynamics at two sites (C and D) in a hypoxic zone on the Texas- Louisiana continental shelf were studied by investigating turbulence quantities i.e. turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), dissipation rate of TKE (E), Reynolds stress (τ ), dissipation rate of temperature variance (χ), eddy diffusivity of temperature (ν't), and eddy diffusivity of density (ν'p). Numerical models were also applied to test their capability of simulating these turbulence quantities. At site D, TKE, E, and τ were calculated from velocity measurements in the bot- tom boundary layer (BBL), using the Kolmogorov’s -5/3 law in the inertial subrange of energy spectra of vertical velocity fluctuations in each burst measurement. Four second-moment turbulence closure models were applied for turbulence simulations, and modeled turbulence quantities were found to be consistent with those observed. It was found from inter-model comparisons that models with the stability functions of Schumann and Gerz predicted higher values of turbulence quantities than those of Cheng in the mid layer, which might be due to that the former stability functions are not sensitive to buoyancy. At site C, χ, E, v’t, and ν’p were calculated from profile measurements throughout the water column, and showed high turbulence level in the surface boundary layer and BBL, as well as in the mid layer where shear stress was induced by advected non-local water above a hypoxic layer. The relatively high dissolved oxygen in the non-local water resulted in upward and downward turbulent oxygen fluxes, and the bottom hypoxia will deform due to turbulence in 7.11 days. Two of the four models in the study at site D were implemented, and results showed that turbulence energy resulting from the non-local water was not well reproduced. We attribute this to the lack of high-resolution velocity measurements for simulations. Model results agreed with observations only for χ and E simulated from the model with the stability function of Cheng in the BBL. Discrepancies between model and observational results lead to the following conclusions: 1) the stability functions of Schumann and Gerz are too simple to represent the turbulent dynamics in stratified mid layers; 2) detailed velocity profiles measurements are required for models to accurately predict turbulence quantities. Missing such observations would result in underestimation,
bottom boundary layer
two-equation turbulence models
second-moment turbulence closures
turbulent oxygen flux
Zhang, Zheng (2013). Observational and Numerical Modeling Studies of Turbulence on the Texas-Louisiana Continental Shelf. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from
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