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An experiment on the stability of small disturbances in a stratified free shear layer

  • R. S. Scotti (a1) (a2) and G. M. Corcos (a1)


A statically stable stratified free shear layer was formed within the test section of a wind tunnel by merging two uniform streams of air after uniformly heating the top stream. The two streams were accelerated side by side in a contraction section. The resulting sheared thermocline thickened gradually as a result of molecular diffusion and was characterized by nearly self-similar temperature (odd), velocity (odd) and Richardson number (even) profiles. The minimum Richardson number J0 could be adjusted over the range 0·07 ≥ J0 ≥ 0·76; the Reynolds number Re varied between 30 and 70. Small periodic disturbances were introduced upstream of the test section by a fine wire oscillating in the thermocline. The wire generated a narrow horizontal beam of internal waves, which propagated downstream and remained confined within the thermocline. The growth or decay of these waves was observed in the test section. The results confirm the existence of a critical Richardson number the value of which is in plausible agreement with theoretical predictions (J0 ≅ 0·22 for the Reynolds number of the experiment). The growth rate is a function of the wavenumber and is somewhat different from that computed for the same Reynolds and Richardson numbers, but the calculation assumed velocity and density profiles which were also somewhat different.



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An experiment on the stability of small disturbances in a stratified free shear layer

  • R. S. Scotti (a1) (a2) and G. M. Corcos (a1)


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