Large eddy simulation of free surface shallow-water flow

Chi Wai Li, J. H. Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Shallow-water flow with free surface frequently occurs in ambient water bodies, in which the horizontal scale of motion is generally two orders of magnitude greater than the water depth. To accurately predict this flow phenomenon in more detail, a three-dimensional numerical model incorporating the method of large eddy simulation (LES) has been developed and assessed. The governing equations are split into three parts in the finite difference solution: advection, dispersion and propagation. The advection part is solved by the QUICKEST scheme. The dispersion part is solved by the central difference method and the propagation part is solved implicitly using the Gauss-Seidel iteration method. The model has been applied to free surface channel flow for which ample experimental data are available for verification. The inflow boundary condition for turbulence is generated by a spectral line processor. The computed results compare favourably with the experimental data and those results obtained by using a periodic boundary condition. The performance of the model is also assessed for the case in which anisotropic grids and filters with horizontal grid size of the order of the water depth are used for computational efficiency. The coarse horizontal grid was found to cause a significant reduction in the large-scale turbulent motion generated by the bottom turbulence, and the turbulent motion is predominately described by the sub-grid scale (SGS) terms. The use of the Smagorinsky model for SGS turbulence in this situation is found inappropriate. A parabolic mixing length model, which accounts for the filtered turbulence, is then proposed. The new model can reproduce more accurately the flow quantities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2000


  • Free surface
  • Large eddy simulation
  • Shallow water
  • Turbulence modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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