Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The interaction between waves and a turbulent current: waves propagating with the current

P. H.  Kemp a1 and R. R.  Simons a1
a1 Department of Civil and Municipal Engineering, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6 BT

Article author query
kemp ph   [Google Scholar] 
simons rr   [Google Scholar] 


This paper describes an experimental programme carried out in a laboratory channel with rough and smooth beds, to investigate the interaction between gravity waves and a turbulent current. In particular, changes induced in the mean-velocity profiles, turbulent fluctuations, bed shear stresses and wave attenuation rates are considered for a range of wave heights, keeping the wave period constant. The smooth-boundary tests were carried out as a necessary preliminary to the more-realistic rough-boundary condition.

A directionally sensitive laser anemometer was used to measure horizontal, vertical, and 45° velocity components in the oscillating fluid, and an on-line minicomputer was programmed to produce ensemble averages of velocities, Reynolds stresses and wave-elevation data. The cycle was sampled at 200 separate phase positions, with 180 observations at each position. Measurements were made at up to 30 points in the vertical.

Preliminary tests were carried out on the unidirectional current and on the waves alone. These show that mean-velocity profiles and turbulence parameters of the current agree satisfactorily with previous experiments, and that the waves are approximated closely by Stokes’ second-order theory.

For combined wave and current tests, mean-velocity profiles are generally found to differ from those suggested by a linear superposition of wave and current velocities, a change in boundary-layer thickness being indicated. However, shear stresses at the smooth boundary are found to be described by such a linear addition.

(Received December 24 1980)
(Revised July 23 1981)