Small-Scale Anisotropy in Stably Stratified Turbulence; Inferences Based on Katabatic Flows

Eliezer Kit*, Harindra J.S. Fernando

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The focus of the current study is on the anisotropy of stably stratified turbulence that is not only limited to large scales and an inertial subrange but also penetrates to small-scale turbulence in the viscous/dissipation subrange on the order of the Kolmogorov scale. The anisotropy of buoyancy forces is well-known, including ensuing effects such as horizontal layering and pancakes structures. Laboratory experiments in the nineties by Van Atta and his students showed that the anisotropy penetrates to very small scales, but their experiments were performed only at a relatively low Reλ (i.e., at Taylor Reynolds numbers) and, therefore, did not provide convincing evidence of anisotropy penetration into viscous sublayers. Nocturnal katabatic flows having configurations of stratified parallel shear flows and developing on mountain slopes provide high Reynolds number data for testing the notion of anisotropy at viscous scales, but obtaining appropriate time series of the data representing stratified shear flows devoid of unwarranted atmospheric factors is a challenge. This study employed the “in situ” calibration of multiple hot-film-sensors collocated with a sonic anemometer that enabled obtaining a 90 min continuous time series of a “clean” katabatic flow. A detailed analysis of the structure functions was conducted in the inertial and viscous subranges at an Reλ around 1250. The results of DNS simulations by Kimura and Herring were employed for the interpretation of data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number918
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • direct numerical simulation (DNS)
  • intermittency
  • skewness
  • stratified shear flow
  • structure function


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