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Aiming to study the rough-wall turbulent boundary layer structure over differently arranged roughness elements, an experimental study was conducted on flows with regular and random roughness. Varying planform densities of truncated cone roughness elements in a square staggered pattern were investigated. The same planform densities were also investigated in random arrangements. Velocity statistics were measured via two-component laser Doppler velocimetry and stereoscopic particle image velocimetry. Friction velocity, thickness, roughness length and zero-plane displacement, determined from spatially averaged flow statistics, showed only minor differences between the regular and random arrangements at the same density. Recent a priori morphometric and statistical drag prediction methods were evaluated against experimentally determined roughness length. Observed differences between regular and random surface flow parameters were due to the presence of secondary flows which manifest as high-momentum pathways and low-momentum pathways in the streamwise velocity. Contrary to expectation, these secondary flows were present over the random surfaces and not discernible over the regular surfaces. Previously identified streamwise-coherent spanwise roughness heterogeneity does not seem to be present, suggesting that such roughness heterogeneity is not necessary to sustain secondary flows. Evidence suggests that the observed secondary flows were initiated at the front edge of the roughness and sustained over irregular roughness. Due to the secondary flows, local turbulent boundary layer profiles do not scale with local wall shear stress but appear to scale with local turbulent shear stress above the roughness canopy. Additionally, quadrant analysis shows distinct changes in the populations of ejection and sweep events.
Motivated by the need for accurate determination of wall shear stress from profile measurements in turbulent boundary layer flows, the total shear stress balance is analysed and reformulated using several well-established semi-empirical relations. The analysis highlights the significant effect that small pressure gradients can have on parameters deduced from data even in nominally zero pressure gradient boundary layers. Using the comprehensive shear stress balance together with the log-law equation, it is shown that friction velocity, roughness length and zero-plane displacement can be determined with only velocity and turbulent shear stress profile measurements at a single streamwise location for nominally zero pressure gradient turbulent boundary layers. Application of the proposed analysis to turbulent smooth- and rough-wall experimental data shows that the friction velocity is determined with accuracy comparable to force balances (approximately 1 %–4 %). Additionally, application to boundary layer data from previous studies provides clear evidence that the often cited discrepancy between directly measured friction velocities (e.g. using force balances) and those derived from traditional total shear stress methods is likely due to the small favourable pressure gradient imposed by a fixed cross-section facility. The proposed comprehensive shear stress analysis can account for these small pressure gradients and allows more accurate boundary layer wall shear stress or friction velocity determination using commonly available mean velocity and shear stress profile data from a single streamwise location.
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