Direct numerical simulation of turbulent open channel flows at moderately high Reynolds numbers

Jie Yao, Xi Chen, Fazle Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Well-resolved direct numerical simulations of turbulent open channel flows (OCFs) are performed for friction Reynolds numbers up to. Various turbulent statistics are documented and compared with the closed channel flows (CCFs). As expected, the mean velocity profiles of the OCFs match well with the CCFs in the near-wall region but diverge notably in the outer region. Interestingly, a logarithmic layer with Kárman constant occurs for OCF at, distinctly different from CCF. Except for a very thin layer near the free surface, most of the velocity and vorticity variances match between OCFs and CCFs. The one-dimensional energy spectra reveal that the very-large-scale motions (VLSMs) with streamwise wavelength 3 h > or spanwise wavelength 0.5 h > contribute the most to turbulence intensity and Reynolds shear stress in the overlap and outer layers (where h is the water depth). Furthermore, the VLSMs in OCFs are stronger than those in CCFs, resulting in a slightly higher streamwise velocity variance in the former. Due to the footprint effect, these structures also have significant contributions to the mean wall shear stress, and the difference between OCF and CCF enlarges with increasing. In summary, the free surface in OCFs plays an essential role in various flow phenomena, including the formation of stronger VLSMs and turbulent kinetic energy redistribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA19
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 25 2022


  • channel flow
  • turbulent boundary layers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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