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Long Eddies in Sheared Flows

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The characteristic feature of the wide variety of hydraulic shear flows analyzed in this study is that they all contain a critical level where some of the fluid is turned relative to the ambient flow. One example is the flow produced in a thin layer of fluid, contained between lateral boundaries, during the passage of a long eddy. The boundaries of the layer may be rigid, or flexible, or free; the fluid may be either compressible or incompressible. A further example is the flow produced when a shear layer separates from a rigid boundary producing a region of recirculating flow. The equations used in this study are those governing inviscid hydraulic shear flows. They are similar in form to the classical boundary layer equations with the viscous term omitted. The main result of the study is to show that when the hydraulic flow is steady and contained between lateral boundaries, the variation of vorticity ω(ψ) cannot be prescribed at any streamline which crosses the critical level. This variation is, in fact, determined by (1) the vorticity distribution at all streamlines which do not cross the critical level, by (2) the auxiliary conditions which must be satisfied at the boundaries of the fluid layer, and by (3) the dimensions of the region containing the turned flow. If at some instant the vorticity distribution is specified arbitrarily at all streamlines, generally the subsequent flow will be unsteady. In order to emphasize this point, a class of exact solutions describing unsteady hydraulic flows are derived. These are used to describe the flow produced by the passage of a long eddy which distorts as it is convected with the ambient flow. They are also used to describe the unsteady flow that is produced when a shear layer separates from a boundary. Examples are given both of flows in which the shear layer reattaches after separation and of flows in which the shear layer does not reattach. When the shear layer vorticity distribution has the form ωαy n, where y is a distance measure across the layer, the steady flows are of Falkner‐Skan type inside, and adjacent to, the separation region. The unsteady flows described in this paper are natural generalizations of these Falkner‐Skan flows. One important result of the analysis is to show that if the unsteady flow inside the separation region is strongly sheared, then the boundary of the separation region moves upstream towards the point of separation, forming large transverse currents. Generally, the assumption of hydraulic flow becomes invalid in a finite time. On the other hand, if the flow inside the separation region is weakly sheared, this region is swept downstream and the flow becomes self‐similar.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lehigh University

Publication date: April 1, 1983

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