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Title: Turbulent shear layers in a uniformly stratified background: DNS at high Reynolds number
Direct numerical simulations are performed to investigate a stratified shear layer at high Reynolds number ( $Re$ ) in a study where the Richardson number ( $Ri$ ) is varied among cases. Unlike previous work on a two-layer configuration in which the shear layer resides between two layers with constant density, an unbounded fluid with uniform stratification is considered here. The evolution of the shear layer includes a primary Kelvin–Helmholtz shear instability followed by a wide range of secondary shear and convective instabilities, similar to the two-layer configuration. During transition to turbulence, the shear layers at low $Ri$ exhibit a period of thickness contraction (not observed at lower $Re$ ) when the momentum and buoyancy fluxes are counter-gradient. The behaviour in the turbulent regime is significantly different from the case with a two-layer density profile. The transition layers, which are zones with elevated shear and stratification that form at the shear-layer edges, are stronger and also able to support a significant internal wave flux. After the shear layer becomes turbulent, mixing in the transition layers is shown to be more efficient than that which develops in the centre of the shear layer. Overall, the cumulative mixing efficiency ( $E^C$ ) more » is larger than the often assumed value of 1/6. Also, $E^C$ is found to be smaller than that in the two-layer configuration at moderate Ri . It is relatively less sensitive to background stratification, exhibiting little variation for $0.08 \leqslant Ri \leqslant 0.2$ . The dependence of mixing efficiency on buoyancy Reynolds number during the turbulence phase is qualitatively similar to homogeneous sheared turbulence. « less
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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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National Science Foundation
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