Large eddy simulation of particle settling in the ocean mixed layer

Y. Noh, I. S. Kang, M. Herold, S. Raasch

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The settling process of suspended particles in the turbulent flow was investigated by analyzing the Lagrangian motion of a large number of particles in the ocean mixed layer simulated by large eddy simulation (LES), focusing on the role of Langmuir circulation (LC). At the beginning, particles released near the surface are swept down rapidly following the downward jets in the presence of LC, contrary to the case of the horizontally uniform downward propagation in the absence of it. The strong vertical mixing by LC keeps the particle concentration almost uniform after the initial period in the presence of LC, while its mean concentration continues to decrease through particle settling. Under the influence of turbulence in the ocean mixed layer, the particle settling velocity W is always smaller than ws, and W/ws decreases with decreasing ws/u*, where ws is the terminal velocity of a particle in the still fluid and u* is the frictional velocity. The presence of LC causes a further decrease of W ultimately, and the difference between the cases with and without LC is the largest at ws/u*∼1. The analysis of LES data reveals that particles spend more time in upward flows and that more particles tend to accumulate in the high vorticity region in the presence of LC. It suggests that particle trapping is more likely when the length scale of vortices is larger, which may lead to the decrease of W in the presence of LC. It was also found that the preferential concentration occurs away from the regions of high horizontal vorticity and divergence when ws/u*∼1.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085109
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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