Title: Turbulence and hurricanes: Using simulations to look where experiments can’t.
Originally published at environmentalchange.nd.edu.Abstract: In the environment, air and water transport a wide variety of constituents, including nutrients, pollution, droplets, aerosols, dust, and even bugs. Predicting where these things end up, and in what abundance, is a difficult enterprise; this difficulty impacts a huge range of scientific disciplines, and in some ways limits our ability to predict future environmental conditions. In particular, turbulent motions, where the fluid motion is unsteady, chaotic, and unpredictable, are a highly nonlinear phenomena but form the foundation on which environmental transport is based. Making matters worse, often it is hazardous or simply impossible to observe these motions in nature or recreate them in the laboratory. This talk will provide an overview of recent efforts to use powerful numerical simulations to fill in many of the gaps associated with turbulent transport in the environment, including hurricane dynamics and hyporheic exchange in a river. Setting up and executing carefully designed numerical simulations allows us to better characterize the underlying processes and physics that govern motions in the atmosphere and ocean.