Journal article

Saturation of the response to stochastic forcing in two-dimensional backward-facing step flow: A self-consistent approximation

Selective noise amplifiers are characterized by large linear amplification to external perturbations in a particular frequency range despite their global linear stability. Applying a stochastic forcing with increasing amplitude, the response undergoes a strong nonlinear saturation when compared to the linear estimation. Building upon our previous work, we introduce a predictive model that describes this nonlinear dynamics, and we apply it to a canonical example of selective noise amplifiers: the backward-facing step flow. Rewriting conveniently the stochastic forcing and response in the frequency domain, the model consists in a mean flow equation coupled to the linear response to forcing at each frequency. This coupling is attained by the Reynolds stress, which is constructed by the integral in frequency of the independent responses. We generalize the model for a response to a white noise forcing d-correlated in space and time restricting the flow dynamics to its most energetic patterns calculated from the optimal harmonic forcing and response of the flow. The model estimates accurately the response saturation when compared to direct numerical simulations, and it correctly approximates the structure of the response and the mean flow modification. It also shows that the response undergoes a selective process governed by the nonlinear gain, which promotes a response structure with an approximately single frequency and wavelength in the whole domain. These results suggest that the mean flow modification by the Reynolds stress is the key nonlinearity in the saturation process of the response to white noise.

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