Background In a turbulent boundary layer, kinetic energy from the free-stream flow is converted into turbulent fluctuations and then dissipated into internal energy by viscous action. This process is continual, such that the turbulent boundary layer is self-sustaining in the absence of strong stabilizing effects. For as long as these facts have been known, fluid dynamicists have sought to understand just how boundary-layer turbulence is generated at the expense of the mean motion, and just how it is dissipated. These are the objectives of studying the internal "structure" of turbulence. Since boundary-layer flows are the technical driver for so many engineering applications, immense human and financial resources have been brought to bear on the problem over many decades of study. The progress made, however, has not been commensurate with the effort expended, reflecting the fundamental complexity of turbulence phenomena. Most statistical descriptions and models of boundary-layer turbulence ignore the known presence of quasi-periodic repeating patterns of coherent motion in the flow. Since it is apparently these cohercnt motions that are actually responsible for the maintenance (production and dissipation) of turbulence in a boundary layer, the study of turbulence structure is of fundamental importance to the understanding of boundary-layer
Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics – Annual Reviews
Published: Jan 1, 1991
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