Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Physical Review E



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DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.93.043120


Scalar transport by turbulent flows is best described in terms of Lagrangian parcel motions. Here we measure the Eulerian distance travel along Lagrangian trajectories in a simple point vortex flow to determine the probabilistic impulse response function for scalar transport in the absence of molecular diffusion. As expected, the mean squared Eulerian displacement scales ballistically at very short times and diffusively for very long times, with the displacement distribution at any given time approximating that of a random walk. However, significant deviations in the displacement distributions from Rayleigh are found. The probability of long distance transport is reduced over inertial range time scales due to spatial and temporal intermittency. This can be modeled as a series of trapping events with durations uniformly distributed below the Eulerian integral time scale. The probability of long distance transport is, on the other hand, enhanced beyond that of the random walk for both times shorter than the Lagrangian integral time and times longer than the Eulerian integral time. The very short-time enhancement reflects the underlying Lagrangian velocity distribution, while that at very long times results from the spatial and temporal variation of the flow at the largest scales. The probabilistic impulse response function, and with it the expectation value of the scalar concentration at any point in space and time, can be modeled using only the evolution of the lowest spatial wave number modes (the mean and the lowest harmonic) and an eddy based constrained random walk that captures the essential velocity phase relations associated with advection by vortex motions. Preliminary examination of Lagrangian tracers in three-dimensional homogeneous isotropic turbulence suggests that transport in that setting can be similarly modeled.