Modal decomposition of velocity signals in a plane, turbulent wake

B. Marasli, F. H. Champagne, I. J. Wygnanski

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22 Scopus citations


The Orr-Sommerfeld equation admits two solution modes for the two-dimensional plane wake. These are the sinuous mode with antisymmetric stream wise fluctuations and the varicose mode with symmetric streamwise fluctuations. The varicose mode is often ignored because its amplification rates are considerably less than those of the sinuous mode. An experimental investigation of the varicose mode in a two-dimensional turbulent wake was undertaken to determine if this mode of instability agrees as well with linear stability theory, as did the sinuous mode in previous experiments (Wygnanski, Champagne & Marasli 1986). The experiments demonstrated that, although it is possible to generate a nearly pure symmetric disturbance wave, it is very difficult to do as the flow is very sensitive to the slightest asymmetries which might be present in the experiments. These asymmetries are preferentially amplified, resulting in the eventual distortion of an initially prominent symmetric wave. It was therefore necessary to decompose phase-averaged measurements of the streamwise component of the velocity fluctuations into their symmetric and antisymmetric parts, and the results were compared with the appropriate theoretical eigenfunctions from linear stability theory. The lateral distribution of the amplitude and the phase of each mode agree reasonably well with their theoretical counterparts from the Orr-Sommerfeld equation. Slowly diverging linear theory predicts the streamwise variation of the sinuous mode quite well, but fails to do so for the varicose mode. An eddy-viscosity model, coupled with the slowly diverging linear equations, predicts the streamwise variation of both modes reasonably well and describes the transverse distributions of the perturbation amplitudes for both modes, but it fails to predict the distribution of phase for the varicose mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-273
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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