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Turbulent Transport by Diffusive Stratified Shear Flows: From Local to Global Models. II. Limitations of Local Models

Abstract : This paper continues the systematic investigation of diffusive shear instabilities initiated in Part I of this series. In this work, we primarily focus on quantifying the impact of nonlocal mixing, which is not taken into account in Zahn’s mixing model. We present the results of direct numerical simulations in a new model setup designed to contain coexisting laminar and turbulent shear layers. As in Part I, we use the low Péclet number approximation of Lignières to model the evolution of the perturbations. Our main findings are twofold. First, turbulence is not necessarily generated whenever Zahn’s nonlinear criterion JPr < (JPr) c is satisfied, where J = N 2/S 2 is the local gradient Richardson number, Pr = ν/κ T is the Prandtl number, and (JPr) c ≃ 0.007. We have demonstrated that the presence or absence of turbulent mixing in this limit hysteretically depends on the history of the shear layer. Second, Zahn’s nonlinear instability criterion only approximately locates the edge of the turbulent layer, and mixing beyond the region where JPr < (JPr) c can also take place in a manner analogous to convective overshoot. We found that the turbulent kinetic energy decays roughly exponentially beyond the edge of the shear-unstable region, on a lengthscale δ that is directly proportional to the scale of the turbulent eddies, which are themselves of the order of the Zahn scale (see Part I). Our results suggest that mixing by diffusive shear instabilities should be modeled with more care than is currently standard in stellar evolution codes.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - 11:24:14 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 11:46:09 AM

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Damien Gagnier, Pascale Garaud. Turbulent Transport by Diffusive Stratified Shear Flows: From Local to Global Models. II. Limitations of Local Models. The Astrophysical Journal, 2018, 862, ⟨10.3847/1538-4357/aacd15⟩. ⟨insu-03678197⟩

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