A variational multiscale method for incompressible turbulent flows: Bubble functions and fine scale fields

Arif Masud, Ramon Calderer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a residual-based turbulence model for the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. The method is derived employing the variational multiscale (VMS) framework. A multiscale decomposition of the continuous solution and a priori unique decomposition of the admissible spaces of functions lead to two coupled nonlinear problems termed as the coarse-scale and the fine-scale sub-problems. The fine-scale velocity field is assumed to be nonlinear and time-dependent and is modeled via the bubble functions approach applied directly to the fine-scale sub-problem. A significant contribution in this paper is a systematic and consistent derivation of the fine-scale variational operator, commonly termed as the stabilization tensor that possesses the right order in the advective and diffusive limits, and variationally projects the fine-scale solution onto the coarse-scale space. A direct treatment of the fine-scale problem via bubble functions offers several fine-scale approximation options with varying degrees of mathematical sophistication that are investigated via benchmark problems. Numerical accuracy of the proposed method is shown on a forced-isotropic turbulence problem, statistically stationary turbulent channel flow problems at ReT=395 and 590, and non-equilibrium turbulent flow around a cylinder at Re=3,900.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2577-2593
Number of pages17
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
Issue number33-36
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • Bubble functions
  • Large eddy simulation
  • Residual-based turbulence model
  • Stabilized finite elements
  • Turbulence modeling
  • Variational multiscale method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computer Science Applications


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