Energy Transfer from Large to Small Scales in Turbulence by Multiscale Nonlinear Strain and Vorticity Interactions
An intrinsic feature of turbulent flows is an enhanced rate of mixing and kinetic energy dissipation due to the rapid generation of small-scale motions from large-scale excitation. The transfer of kinetic energy from large to small scales is commonly attributed to the stretching of vorticity by the strain rate, but strain self-amplification also plays a role. Previous treatments of this connection are phenomenological or inexact, or cannot distinguish the contribution of vorticity stretching from that of strain self-amplification. In this Letter, an exact relationship is derived which quantitatively establishes how intuitive multiscale mechanisms such as vorticity stretching and strain self-amplification together actuate the interscale transfer of energy in turbulence. Numerical evidence verifies this result and uses it to demonstrate that the contribution of strain self-amplification to energy transfer is higher than that of vorticity stretching, but not overwhelmingly so.