Rough-wall turbulent boundary layers with constant skin friction

A. Sridhar*, D. I. Pullin, Wan Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A semi-empirical model is presented that describes the development of a fully developed turbulent boundary layer in the presence of surface roughness with length scale ks that varies with streamwise distance x. Interest is centred on flows for which all terms of the von Kármán integral relation, including the ratio of outer velocity to friction velocity U+ ≡ U/uζ, are streamwise constant. For Rex assumed large, use is made of a simple log-wake model of the local turbulent mean-velocity profile that contains a standard mean-velocity correction for the asymptotic fully rough regime and with assumed constant parameter values. It is then shown that, for a general power-law external velocity variation U ∼ xm, all measures of the boundary-layer thickness must be proportional to x and that the surface sand-grain roughness scale variation must be the linear form ks(x) = αx, where x is the distance from the boundary layer of zero thickness and is a dimensionless constant. This is shown to give a two-parameter (m,α) family of solutions, for which U+ (or equivalently Cf) and boundary-layer thicknesses can be simply calculated. These correspond to perfectly self-similar boundary-layer growth in the streamwise direction with similarity variable z/(αx), where z is the wall-normal coordinate. Results from this model over a range of α are discussed for several cases, including the zero-pressure-gradient (m = 0) and sink-flow (m =-1) boundary layers. Trends observed in the model are supported by wall-modelled large-eddy simulation of the zero-pressure-gradient case for Rex in the range 108-1010 and for four values of α. Linear streamwise growth of the displacement, momentum and nominal boundary-layer thicknesses is confirmed, while, for each α, the mean-velocity profiles and streamwise turbulent variances are found to collapse reasonably well onto z/(αx). For given α, calculations of U+ obtained from large-eddy simulations are streamwise constant and independent of Rex when this is large. The present results suggest that, in the sense that U+ (α, m) is constant, these flows can be interpreted as the fully rough limit for boundary layers in the presence of small-scale linear roughness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-45
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 10 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Cambridge University Press.


  • turbulence modelling
  • turbulence simulation
  • turbulent boundary layers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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