On the suitability of second-order accurate finite-volume solvers for the simulation of atmospheric boundary layer flow

Giacomini, Beatrice; Giometto, Marco G.

The present work analyzes the quality and reliability of an important class of general-purpose, second-order accurate finite-volume (FV) solvers for the large-eddy simulation of a neutrally stratified atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) flow. The analysis is carried out within the OpenFOAM® framework, which is based on a colocated grid arrangement. A series of open-channel flow simulations are carried out using a static Smagorinsky model for subgrid scale momentum fluxes in combination with an algebraic equilibrium wall-layer model. The sensitivity of the solution to variations in numerical parameters such as grid resolution (up to inline-formula1603 control volumes), numerical solvers, and interpolation schemes for the discretization of nonlinear terms is evaluated and results are contrasted against those from a well-established mixed pseudospectral–finite-difference code. Considered flow statistics include mean streamwise velocity, resolved Reynolds stresses, velocity skewness and kurtosis, velocity spectra, and two-point autocorrelations. A quadrant analysis along with the examination of the conditionally averaged flow field are performed to investigate the mechanisms responsible for momentum transfer in the flow. It is found that at the selected grid resolutions, the considered class of FV-based solvers yields a poorly correlated flow field and is not able to accurately capture the dominant mechanisms responsible for momentum transport in the ABL. Specifically, the predicted flow field lacks the well-known sweep and ejection pairs organized side by side along the cross-stream direction, which are representative of a streamwise roll mode. This is especially true when using linear interpolation schemes for the discretization of nonlinear terms. This shortcoming leads to a misprediction of flow statistics that are relevant for ABL flow applications and to an enhanced sensitivity of the solution to variations in grid resolution, thus calling for future research aimed at reducing the impact of modeling and discretization errors.

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Giacomini, Beatrice / Giometto, Marco G.: On the suitability of second-order accurate finite-volume solvers for the simulation of atmospheric boundary layer flow. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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