September 30, 2022

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Multi-Scale Fluid Physics in Oceanic Flows: New Insights from Laboratory Experiments and Numerical Simulations

5 min read


Oceanic flows are characterized by many physical processes that occur at multiple spatial-temporal scales, such as turbulence, waves, convection with rotation, and stratification. These flows have significant impacts on the oceanic environment – physical, chemical, and biological – and on the global climate, so they have been one of the most important research focuses in marine science. A comprehensive understanding of the multi-scale, multi-physical dynamics of oceanic flows is crucial for the development of global ocean models and the understanding of climate change. However, because of the abominable oceanic environment and associated technical difficulties, revealing the complex mechanisms of oceanic flows via direct field measurements remains a considerable challenge, despite the great progress that has been made over the years. Moreover, as oceanographic research moves toward higher resolution, the importance of small-scale processes has become increasingly recognized. In this context, laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, which can be conducted under precisely-controlled conditions and at a relatively low cost, are effectively complemented the field measurements and become useful tools for tackling this problem.

Laboratory experiments have long played an important role in providing insights into the underlying dynamical processes in oceanic flows. Pioneering examples include Ekman’s work on interfacial waves in 1904, Sandström’s convection experiments in 1908, and Stommel’s idealized experiments on thermohaline circulation and turbulent mixing in the early 1960s. In the past decades, advances in instrumentation and data acquisition techniques have enabled new designs of laboratory experiments with high resolutions in both space and time. On the other hand, the recent enormous growth in computational power has allowed researchers to numerically simulate complex fluid motions in more detail than ever before. These developments have led to a resurgence of research on oceanic flows via laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, thereby offering the possibility to improve our understanding of fluid dynamical processes in marine systems and their potential effects on the oceanic environment and the global climate.

This Research Topic aims at stimulating innovative studies on the multi-scale fluid dynamics of oceanic flows, using modern laboratory experiments and numerical simulations. The research issues may involve all relevant dynamical processes at various scales, such as convective circulation at large scales and turbulent mixing at small scales. We expect that the lessons learned from these studies can enrich our understanding of the key mechanisms of oceanic flows. We also hope these studies complement field measurements and act as a source of inspiration for the next generation of ocean and climate models.

Based on the goal of the present research topic, we welcome manuscripts that report laboratory and numerical studies on the following subtopics (but are not limited to). These studies should be motivated by physical oceanographic problems and the results may shed light on the relevant dynamical processes in oceanic flows.

• Buoyancy-Driven Flows: Double-Diffusive Convection, Horizontal Convection, Hydrothermal/River Plumes
• Waves: Surface Wave; Inertial Wave, Internal Wave, Wave-vortex interaction
• Turbulence: Rotating/Stratified Turbulence, Turbulent Mixing, Oceanic boundary layer
• Interaction between Flows and Topography
• Biology-Driven Flows such as Bio-mixing


Keywords:
Oceanic Flows, Fluid Dynamics, Multi-Scale Process, Laboratory Experiments, Numerical Simulations


Important Note:
All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.


Oceanic flows are characterized by many physical processes that occur at multiple spatial-temporal scales, such as turbulence, waves, convection with rotation, and stratification. These flows have significant impacts on the oceanic environment – physical, chemical, and biological – and on the global climate, so they have been one of the most important research focuses in marine science. A comprehensive understanding of the multi-scale, multi-physical dynamics of oceanic flows is crucial for the development of global ocean models and the understanding of climate change. However, because of the abominable oceanic environment and associated technical difficulties, revealing the complex mechanisms of oceanic flows via direct field measurements remains a considerable challenge, despite the great progress that has been made over the years. Moreover, as oceanographic research moves toward higher resolution, the importance of small-scale processes has become increasingly recognized. In this context, laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, which can be conducted under precisely-controlled conditions and at a relatively low cost, are effectively complemented the field measurements and become useful tools for tackling this problem.

Laboratory experiments have long played an important role in providing insights into the underlying dynamical processes in oceanic flows. Pioneering examples include Ekman’s work on interfacial waves in 1904, Sandström’s convection experiments in 1908, and Stommel’s idealized experiments on thermohaline circulation and turbulent mixing in the early 1960s. In the past decades, advances in instrumentation and data acquisition techniques have enabled new designs of laboratory experiments with high resolutions in both space and time. On the other hand, the recent enormous growth in computational power has allowed researchers to numerically simulate complex fluid motions in more detail than ever before. These developments have led to a resurgence of research on oceanic flows via laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, thereby offering the possibility to improve our understanding of fluid dynamical processes in marine systems and their potential effects on the oceanic environment and the global climate.

This Research Topic aims at stimulating innovative studies on the multi-scale fluid dynamics of oceanic flows, using modern laboratory experiments and numerical simulations. The research issues may involve all relevant dynamical processes at various scales, such as convective circulation at large scales and turbulent mixing at small scales. We expect that the lessons learned from these studies can enrich our understanding of the key mechanisms of oceanic flows. We also hope these studies complement field measurements and act as a source of inspiration for the next generation of ocean and climate models.

Based on the goal of the present research topic, we welcome manuscripts that report laboratory and numerical studies on the following subtopics (but are not limited to). These studies should be motivated by physical oceanographic problems and the results may shed light on the relevant dynamical processes in oceanic flows.

• Buoyancy-Driven Flows: Double-Diffusive Convection, Horizontal Convection, Hydrothermal/River Plumes
• Waves: Surface Wave; Inertial Wave, Internal Wave, Wave-vortex interaction
• Turbulence: Rotating/Stratified Turbulence, Turbulent Mixing, Oceanic boundary layer
• Interaction between Flows and Topography
• Biology-Driven Flows such as Bio-mixing


Keywords:
Oceanic Flows, Fluid Dynamics, Multi-Scale Process, Laboratory Experiments, Numerical Simulations


Important Note:
All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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