Localized layers of turbulence in stratified horizontally sheared Poiseuille flow

  • Le Gal, Patrice (IRPHE)
  • Labarbe, Joris (Laboratoire Jean Alexandre Dieudonné)
  • Harlander, Uwe (Brandenburg University of Technology)
  • Le Dizes, Stéphane (IRPHE)
  • Favier, Benjamin (IRPHE)

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This article presents a numerical analysis of the instability developing in horizontally sheared Poiseuille flow, when stratification extends along the vertical direction. Our study builds up on the previous work that originally detected the linear instability of such configuration, by means of experiments, theoretical analysis and numerical simulations (Le Gal et al., 2021). We extend hereafter this former investigation beyond linear theory, investigating nonlinear regimes with direct numerical simulations for a Froude number of 2 and a Schmidt number of 1. We notice that the flow loses its vertical homogeneity through a secondary bifurcation, due to harmonic resonances, and further describe this symmetry-breaking mechanism in the vicinity of the instability threshold. When departing away from this limit, we observe a series of bursting events that break down the flow into disordered motions driven by localized shear instabilities. This intermittent dynamics leads to the coexistence of horizontal localized layers of stratified turbulence surrounded by quiescent regions of meandering waves.