An eddy injection method for large-eddy simulations of Tornado-like vortices

George H. Bryan, Nathan A. Dahl, David S. Nolan, Richard Rotunno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The structure and intensity of tornado-like vortices are examined using large-eddy simulations (LES) in an idealized framework. The analysis focuses on whether the simulated boundary layer contains resolved turbulent eddies, and whether most of the vertical component of turbulent momentum flux is resolved rather than parameterized. Initial conditions are first generated numerically using a "precursor simulation" with an axisymmetric model. A three-dimensional "baseline" LES is then integrated using these initial conditions plus random perturbations. With this baseline approach, the inner core of the simulated vortex clearly contains resolved turbulent eddies (as expected); however, the boundary layer inflow has very weak resolved turbulent eddies, and the subgrid model accounts for most of the vertical turbulent momentum flux (contrary to the design of these simulations). To overcome this problem, a second precursor simulation is conducted in which resolved turbulent fluctuations develop within a smaller, doubly periodic LES domain. Perturbation flow fields from this precursor LES are then "injected" into the large-domain LES at a specified radius. With this approach, the boundary layer inflow clearly contains resolved turbulent fluctuations, often organized as quasi-2D rolls, which persist into the inner core of the simulation; thus, the simulated tornado-like vortex and its inflowing boundary layer can be characterized as LES. When turbulence is injected, the inner-core vortex structure is always substantially different, the boundary layer inflow is typically deeper, and in most cases the maximum wind speeds are reduced compared to the baseline simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1937-1961
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Large eddy simulations
  • Tornadoes
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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