Experiments were performed to study vortex shedding behind a linearly tapered cylinder. Four cylinders were used, with taper ratios varying from 50:1 to 100:1. The cylinders were each run at four different velocities, adjusted to cover the range of laminar vortex shedding for a non-tapered cylinder. The flow was confirmed to consist of discrete shedding cells, each with a constant frequency. For a centrespan Reynolds number greater than 100, the dimensionless mean cell length was found to be a constant. Individual cell size was found to be roughly self-similar. New shedding cells were created on the ends of the cylinders, or in regions adjacent to areas not shedding. Successful scalings were found for both the cell shedding frequencies and their differences, the modulation frequencies. The modulation frequencies were found to be constant along the cylinder span. The shedding frequency Strouhal number versus Reynolds number curve was found to have a slightly steeper slope than the Strouhal number curve for a non-tapered cylinder. Vortex shedding was found to begin at a local Reynolds number of about 60, regardless of any other factors. End effects were found to be of little importance.
The vortex splits, which form the links between shedding cells, were found to be similar in some respects to those found by earlier investigators. Amplitude results suggested that the splits at different spanwise locations are temporally sequenced by an overall flow mechanism, a supposition confirmed by flow visualization. Wavelet analysis results showed that while the behaviour of the shedding frequencies in time was relatively unaffected by changing taper ratio, the behaviour of the modulation frequency in time was greatly affected. Comparisons with other experiments point out the universality of vortex splitting phenomena.