Analysis and Comparison of Turbulence Model Coefficient Uncertainty for Canonical Flow Problems


The purpose of this paper is to present results of an uncertainty and sensitivity analysis study of commonly used turbulence models in Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes codes due to the epistemic uncertainty in closure coefficients for a set of turbulence model validation cases that represent the structure of several canonical flow problems. The study focuses on the analysis of a 2D Zero Pressure Gradient Flat Plate, a 2D NASA Wall Mounted Hump, and an Axisymmetric Shock Wave Boundary Layer Interaction, all of which are well documented on the NASA Langley Research Center Turbulence Modeling Resource website. The Spalart-Allmaras (SA), the Wilcox (2006) κ−ω (W2006), and the Menter Shear-Stress Transport (SST) turbulence models are considered in the stochastic analyses of these flow problems, and the FUN3D code was utilized as the flow solver. The uncertainty quantification approach involves stochastic expansions based on non-intrusive polynomial chaos to efficiently propagate the uncertainty. Sensitivity analysis is performed with Sobol indices to rank the relative contribution of each closure coefficient to the total uncertainty for several output flow quantities. The results generalize a set of closure coefficients which have been identified as contributing most to the uncertainty in various output quantities of interest for the set of canonical flow problems considered in this study. Mainly, the SA turbulence model is most sensitive to the uncertainties in the diffusion constant (σ), the log layer calibration constant (κ), and the turbulent destruction constant (cw2). The predictive capability of the W2006 model is most sensitive to the uncertainties in a dissipation rate constant (σw), the shear stress limiter (Clim), and a turbulence-kinetic energy constant (β*). Likewise, the SST turbulence model was found to be most sensitive to the diffusion constants (σw1 and σw2), the log layer calibration constant (κ), and the shear stress limiter (a1).


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research


National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Grant NNX14AN17A

Keywords and Phrases

Sensitivity analysis; Turbulence modeling; Uncertainty quantification

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2021 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

15 Sep 2021