Dispersion and reaction in random flows: Single realization vs ensemble average

Antoine Renaud, Jacques Vanneste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examine the dispersion of a passive scalar released in an incompressible fluid flow in an unbounded domain. The flow is assumed to be spatially periodic, with zero spatial average, and random in time, in the manner of the random-phase alternating sine flow which we use as an exemplar. In the long-time
limit, the scalar concentration takes the same, predictable form for almost all realisations of the flow, with a Gaussian core characterised by an effective diffusivity, and large-deviation tails characterised by a rate function (which can be evaluated by computing the largest Lyapunov exponent of a family of random-intime partial differential equations). We contrast this single-realisation description with that which applies to the average of the concentration over an ensemble of flow realisations. We show that the single-realisation and ensemble-average effective diffusivities are identical but that the corresponding rate functions are not, and that the ensemble-averaged description overestimates the concentration in the tails compared with that
obtained for single-flow realisations. This difference has a marked impact for scalars reacting according to the Fisher–Kolmogorov–Petrovskii–Piskunov (FKPP) model. Such scalars form an expanding front whose shape is approximately independent of the flow realisation and can be deduced from the single-realisation large-deviation rate function. We test our predictions against numerical simulations of the alternating sine flow.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019


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