The present status of zonal flow experiments is reviewed with the historical process to attain the concept of zonal flows, which provides a new framework for understanding turbulence and transport in toroidal plasmas. The existence of zonal flows is experimentally confirmed to present a new paradigm of plasma turbulence. The paper presents contemporary experiments on zonal flows as major topics with a brief presentation of the zonal flow theories, the diagnostics and data processing techniques for turbulence and zonal flows and the peripheral issues of zonal flow physics. The accumulated experimental results introduced in this review include identification of zonal flows (both stationary zonal flows and geodesic acoustic modes), nonlinear interactions between zonal flows and turbulence, quantification of turbulent Reynolds stress, flow dynamics, energy transfer dynamics between turbulent wave components and the effects of zonal flows on plasma transport. These results have given rise to a new paradigm, namely, that the plasma turbulence is a system of zonal flows and drift waves, with an emphasis on the interaction between the disparate scale structures, e.g. zonal flows (mesoscale) and turbulence (micro-scale).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics