Experiments on density-gradient anisotropies and scalar dissipation of turbulence in a stably stratified fluid

S. T. Thoroddsen*, C. W. Van Atta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The anisotropic behaviour of density-gradient fluctuations in stably stratified grid turbulence and the consequences for simplified (isotropic) estimates of scalar dissipation rates χ were experimentally studied in a thermally stratified wind tunnel at moderate Reynolds numbers (Reλ ≃ 20). Strong stable stratifications were attained, with Brunt-Väisälä frequency N as high as 4 rad s-1. The correlation method was used to estimate the mean-square cross-stream and streamwise density gradients. Cross-stream gradients were measured using two cold wires. The mean-square vertical gradients were found to become larger than the streamwise gradients by as much as a factor of 2.2 for the largest dimensionless buoyancy times (Nt = 7). This corresponds to a 40% error in the scalar dissipation estimates based on ∂θ/∂x alone, and assuming the validity of the isotropic relations. Gradient spectral relations show that this buoyancy-induced anisotropy persists at all length scales. Better closure of the scalar variance balance was attained than in previously reported measurements by other researchers. This is attributed to our use of cold-wire temperature sensors having larger length-to-diameter ratio than used in the previous measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-409
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 10 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Experiments on density-gradient anisotropies and scalar dissipation of turbulence in a stably stratified fluid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this