Zonally dominated dynamics and Dimits threshold in curvature-driven ITG turbulence

Plamen G. Ivanov, A. A. Schekochihin, W. Dorland, A. R. Field, F. I. Parra

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The saturated state of turbulence driven by the ion-temperature-gradient instability is investigated using a two-dimensional long-wavelength fluid model that describes the perturbed electrostatic potential and perturbed ion temperature in a magnetic field with constant curvature (a -pinch) and an equilibrium temperature gradient. Numerical simulations reveal a well-defined transition between a finite-amplitude saturated state dominated by strong zonal-flow and zonal temperature perturbations, and a blow-up state that fails to saturate on a box-independent scale. We argue that this transition is equivalent to the Dimits transition from a low-transport to a high-transport state seen in gyrokinetic numerical simulations (Dimits et al.Phys. Plasmas, vol. 7, 2000, 969). A quasi-static staircase-like structure of the temperature gradient intertwined with zonal flows, which have patch-wise constant shear, emerges near the Dimits threshold. The turbulent heat flux in the low-collisionality near-marginal state is dominated by turbulent bursts, triggered by coherent long-lived structures closely resembling those found in gyrokinetic simulations with imposed equilibrium flow shear (van Wyk et al.J. Plasma Phys., vol. 82, 2016, 905820609). The breakup of the low-transport Dimits regime is linked to a competition between the two different sources of poloidal momentum in the system - the Reynolds stress and the advection of the diamagnetic flow by the flow. By analysing the linear ion-temperature-gradient modes, we obtain a semi-analytic model for the Dimits threshold at large collisionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number855860502
JournalJournal of Plasma Physics
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • fusion plasma
  • plasma instabilities
  • plasma nonlinear phenomena


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