In this paper, selected findings of a detailed experimental investigation are reported concerning the effects of forced free-stream unsteadiness on a turbulent boundary layer. The forced unsteadiness was sinusoidal and was superimposed locally on an otherwise-steady mainstream, beyond a turbulent boundary layer which had developed under constant-pressure conditions. Within the region over which free-stream unsteadiness was induced, the sinusoidal variation in pressure gradient was between extremes of zero and a positive value, with a positive average level. The local response of the boundary layer to these free-stream effects was studied through simultaneous measurements of the u- and v-components of the velocity field
Although extensive studies of unsteady, turbulent, fully-developed pipe and channel flow have been carried out, the problem of a developing turbulent boundary layer and its response to forced free-stream unsteadiness has received comparatively little attention. The present study is intended to redress this imbalance and, when contrasted with other studies of unsteady turbulent boundary layers, is unique in that: (i) it features an appreciable amplitude of mainstream modulation at a large number of frequencies of forced unsteadiness, (ii) its measurements are both detailed and of high spatial resolution, so that the near-wall behaviour of the flow can be discerned, and (iii) it allows local modulation of the mainstream beyond a turbulent boundary layer which has developed under the well-known conditions of steady, two-dimensional, constant-pressure flow
Results are reported which allow comparison of the behaviour of boundary layers under the same mean external conditions, but with different time dependence in their free-stream velocities. These time dependences correspond to: (i) steady flow, (ii) quasi-steadily varying flow, and (iii) unsteady flow at different frequencies of mainstream unsteadiness. Experimental results focus upon the time-averaged nature of the flow; they indicate that the mean structure of the turbulent boundary layer is sufficiently robust that the imposition of free-stream unsteadiness results only in minor differences relative to the mean character of the steady flow, even at frequencies for which the momentary condition of the flow departs substantially from its quasi-steady state. Mean levels of turbulence production are likewise unaffected by free-stream unsteadiness and temporal production of turbulence appears to result only from modulation of the motions which contribute to turbulence production as a time-averaged measure.