Journal article

Gyrokinetic simulations of turbulent transport: size scaling and chaotic behaviour

Important steps towards the understanding of turbulent transport have been made with the development of the gyrokinetic framework for describing turbulence and with the emergence of numerical codes able to solve the set of gyrokinetic equations. This paper presents some of the main recent advances in gyrokinetic theory and computing of turbulence. Solving 5D gyrokinetic equations requires state-of-the-art high performance computing techniques involving massively parallel computers and parallel scalable algorithms. The various numerical schemes that have been explored until now, Lagrangian, Eulerian and semi-Lagrangian, each have their advantages and drawbacks. A past controversy regarding the finite size effect (finite rho-star) in ITG turbulence has now been resolved. It has triggered an intensive benchmarking effort and careful examination of the convergence properties of the different numerical approaches. Now, both Eulerian and Lagrangian global codes are shown to agree and to converge to the flux-tube result in the rhostar going to 0 limit. It is found, however, that an appropriate treatment of geometrical terms is necessary: inconsistent approximations that are sometimes used can lead to important discrepancies. Turbulent processes are characterized by a chaotic behaviour, often accompanied by bursts and avalanches. Performing ensemble averages of statistically independent simulations, starting from different initial conditions, is presented as a way to assess the intrinsic variability of turbulent fluxes and obtain reliable estimates of the standard deviation. Further developments concerning non-adiabatic electron dynamics around mode-rational surfaces and electromagnetic effects are discussed.

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