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The structure of turbulent boundary layers

  • S. J. Kline (a1), W. C. Reynolds (a1), F. A. Schraub (a1) and P. W. Runstadler (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2006

Extensive visual and quantitative studies of turbulent boundary layers are described. Visual studies reveal the presence of surprisingly well-organized spatially and temporally dependent motions within the so-called ‘laminar sublayer’. These motions lead to the formation of low-speed streaks in the region very near the wall. The streaks interact with the outer portions of the flow through a process of gradual ‘lift-up’, then sudden oscillation, bursting, and ejection. It is felt that these processes play a dominant role in the production of new turbulence and the transport of turbulence within the boundary layer on smooth walls.

Quantitative data are presented providing an association of the observed structure features with the accepted ‘regions’ of the boundary layer in non-dimensional co-ordinates; these data include zero, negative and positive pressure gradients on smooth walls. Instantaneous spanwise velocity profiles for the inner layers are given, and dimensionless correlations for mean streak-spacing and break-up frequency are presented.

Tentative mechanisms for formation and break-up of the low-speed streaks are proposed, and other evidence regarding the implications and importance of the streak structure in turbulent boundary layers is reviewed.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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