This paper is concerned with unsteady laminar boundary layers on solid bodies in the presence of a fluctuating external flow of small amplitude. Any containing enclosures are assumed to be at infinity. Compressibility is ignored and conditions are given under which this and other approximations are valid. Special attention is focussed on the phenomenon of the formation of a steady-streaming flow, induced by the Reynolds stresses in the oscillatory boundary layer: it is shown that, if the characteristic Reynolds number of the steady streaming is large, there is an outer boundary layer within which the steady-streaming velocity decays to zero. The thickness of this outer layer is large compared with that of the inner (oscillatory) layer, but small compared with a typical dimension of the body.
The partial differential equation for the flow in the outer layer is solved in a typical case by a generalization of a series-expansion method due to Fettis. Similarity solutions of the equation are also described.
The theory is applied specifically to the case of flow generated by a circular cylinder oscillating along a diameter in an infinite fluid. Qualitative agreement is obtained with experiments performed by Schlichting.
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