Turbulence and zonal flow structures in the core and L-mode pedestal of tokamak plasmas
Zonal flows (ZF) play a crucial role in regulating ion temperature gradient (ITG) turbulence. In previous global gyrokinetic simulations [I] using the ORB5 code with the adiabatic electron model, it was observed that long-lived ZF structures, leading to a corrugated transport and temperature gradient pattern, could develop in shaped tokamak plasmas much more than in circular shaped plasmas, resulting in reduced transport. These studies are extended to a hybrid electron model in which trapped electrons are kinetic while passing electrons are assumed to have a Boltzmann response for a case dominated by ITG modes. These confirm the results of the fully adiabatic electron model. Simulations done in "gradient-driven" mode, with a Krook-like relaxation towards a given profile, result in non-realistic corrugated heat source/sink profiles. However, after switching off completely the heat source/sink, it is shown that the ZF and transport corrugation remains. Thus the heat source corrugation is merely a consequence, not a cause, of the zonal structures and related radial transport pattern. Considering then core profiles with constant logarithmic gradients and pedestal profiles with linear gradients for L-mode plasmas, as in Ref., we analyze how ITG transport and zonal structures react by independently varying the logarithmic gradients in the core and the linear gradients in the pedestal, using the adiabatic electron model. Results show the presence of large radial zones straddling the core-pedestal transition region. Avalanche-like events propagate over the radial zone at constant speed and repeat with a well defined frequency somewhat below the local geodesic acoustic mode (GAM) frequency. These avalanches are observed on the E x B ZFs, effective heat diffusivity and heat flux, thus a change of gradient in the core affects transport in the pedestal and vice versa. In spite of these non-local effects, attempt is made to characterize transport, and in particular its stiffness, quasi-locally. Global simulation results show that with increased input power the logarithmic gradient in the core is only slightly increased while the linear gradient in the pedestal is substantially enhanced.