Experiments to investigate the formation mechanism and frequency of vortex shedding from a sphere in uniform shear flow were conducted in a water channel using flow visualization and velocity measurement. The Reynolds number, defined in terms of the sphere diameter and approach velocity at its centre, ranged from 200 to 3000. The shear parameter K, defined as the transverse velocity gradient of the shear flow non-dimensionalized by the above two parameters, was varied from 0 to 0.25. The critical Reynolds number beyond which vortex shedding from the sphere occurred was found to be lower than that for uniform flow and decreased approximately linearly with increasing shear parameter. Also, the Strouhal number of the hairpin-shaped vortex loops became larger than that for uniform flow and increased as the shear parameter increased.
The formation mechanism and the structure of vortex shedding were examined on the basis of series of photographs and subsequent image processing using computer graphics. The range of Reynolds number in the present investigation, extending up to 3000, could be classified into three regions on the basis of this study, and it was observed that the wake configuration did not differ substantially from that for uniform flow. Also, unlike the detachment point of vortex loops in uniform flow, which was irregularly located along the circumference of the sphere, the detachment point in shear flow was always on the high-velocity side.