On the large-scale structures in two-dimensional, small-deficit, turbulent wakes

W. Wygnanski, F. Champagne, B. Marasli

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312 Scopus citations


A systematic study of two-dimensional, turbulent, small-deficit wakes was carried out to determine their structure and the universality of their self-preserving states. Various wake generators, including circular cylinders, a symmetrical airfoil, a flat plate, and an assortment of screens of varying solidity, were studied for a wide range of downstream distances. Most of the generators were tailored so that their drag coefficients, and therefore their momentum thicknesses, were identical, permitting comparison at identical Reynolds numbers and aspect ratios. The flat plate and airfoil had a small, trailing-edge flap which could be externally driven to introduce forced sinuous oscillations into the wake. The results indicate that the normalized characteristic velocity and length scales depend on the initial conditions, while the shape of the normalized mean velocity profile is independent of these conditions or the nature of the generator. The normalized distributions of the longitudinal turbulence intensity, however, are dependent on the initial conditions. Linear inviscid stability theory, in which the divergence of the mean flow is taken into account, predicts quite well the amplification and the transverse distributions of amplitudes and phases of externally imposed sinuous waves on a fully developed turbulent wake generated by a flat plate. There is a strong indication that the large structures observed in the unforced wake are related to the two-dimensional instability modes and therefore can be modelled by linear stability theory. Furthermore, the interaction of the two possible modes of instability may be responsible for the vortex street-type pattern observed visually in the small-deficit, turbulent wake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-71
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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