Evolution of a forced stratified mixing layer

J. Rotter*, H. J.S. Fernando, E. Kit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laboratory measurements were carried out in a spatially developing stably stratified shear layer generated downstream of a splitter plate. The instabilities were controlled using a flapper spanning the entire shear layer, with the flapper forced at the fastest growing frequency of the primary [Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH)] instability. The measurements were taken as the KH instabilities roll up, break down, and degenerate into stratified turbulence. Both stratified and homogeneous shear layers were considered, the latter acting as the "baseline" case. The measurements included the streamwise and vertical velocities (made using X-wire hot film probes), which allowed calculation of the mean and rms velocities, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation, and TKE production. The density and its gradients were measured using miniature conductivity probes. The measurements and flow visualization elicited interesting features of KH evolution, namely that KH billows may be turbulent from the onset, the TKE dissipation is largest at early stages of evolution, the production of TKE is a maximum at the breakdown of billows, the decay of turbulence to fossilized motions and concomitant formation of fine (layered) structure occur rapidly after the breakdown of billows, and episodic rebirth of (zombie) turbulence develops before a final permanently fossilized state is achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065107
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


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