The effects of small-scale dissipative fluidic actuation on the evolution of large- and small-scale motions in a turbulent shear layer downstream of a backward-facing step are investigated experimentally. Actuation is applied by modulation of the vorticity flux into the shear layer at frequencies that are substantially higher than the frequencies that are typically amplified in the near field, and has a profound effect on the evolution of the vortical structures within the layer. Specifically, there is a strong broadband increase in the energy of the small-scale motions and a nearly uniform decrease in the energy of the large-scale motions which correspond to the most amplified unstable modes of the base flow. The near field of the forced shear layer has three distinct domains. The first domain (x/θ0 < 50) is dominated by significant concomitant increases in the production and dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy and in the shear layer cross-stream width. In the second domain (50 < x/θ0 < 300), the streamwise rates of change of these quantities become similar to the corresponding rates in the unforced flow although their magnitudes are substantially different. Finally, in the third domain (x/θ0 > 350) the inviscid instability of the shear layer re-emerges in what might be described as a ‘new’ baseline flow.
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