Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 147-166

First online:

On the influence of non-Gaussianity on turbulent transport

  • Stefan HeinzAffiliated withFaculty of Applied Physics, Heat Transfer Section, University of Technology Delft
  • , Eberhard SchallerAffiliated withLehrstuhl für Umweltmeteorologie, Brandenburgische Technische Universität

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Non-Gaussianity effects, first of all the influence of the third and fourth moments of the velocity probability density function, have to be assessed for higher-order closure models of turbulence and Lagrangian modelling of turbulent dispersion in complex flows. Whereas the role and the effects of the third moments are relatively well understood as essential for the explanation of specific observed features of the fully developed convective boundary layer, there are indications that the fourth moments may also be important, but little is known about these moments. Therefore, the effects of non-Gaussianity are considered for the turbulent motion of particles in non-neutral flows without fully developed convection, where the influence of the fourth moments may be expected to be particularly essential. The transport properties of these flows can be characterized by a diffusion coefficient which reflects these effects. It is shown, for different vertical velocity distributions, that the intensity of turbulent transport may be enhanced remarkably by non-Gaussianity. The diffusion coefficient is given as a modification of the Gaussian diffusivity, and this modifying factor is found to be determined to a very good approximation by the normalized fourth moment of the vertical velocity distribution function. This provides better insight into the effect of fourth moments and explains the varying importance of third and fourth moments in different flows.