Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Zero-crossings in turbulent signals

K. R.  Sreenivasan a1, A.  Prabhu a2 and R.  Narasimha a2
a1 Applied Mechanics, Yale University
a2 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

Article author query
sreenivasan kr   [Google Scholar] 
prabhu a   [Google Scholar] 
narasimha r   [Google Scholar] 


A primary motivation for this work arises from the contradictory results obtained in some recent measurements of the zero-crossing frequency of turbulent fluctuations in shear flows. A systematic study of the various factors involved in zero-crossing measurements shows that the dynamic range of the signal, the discriminator characteristics, filter frequency and noise contamination have a strong bearing on the results obtained. These effects are analysed, and explicit corrections for noise contamination have been worked out. New measurements of the zero-crossing frequency N0 have been made for the longitudinal velocity fluctuation in boundary layers and a wake, for wall shear stress in a channel, and for temperature derivatives in a heated boundary layer. All these measurements show that a zero-crossing microscale, defined as Λ = (2πN0)−1, is always nearly equal to the well-known Taylor microscale λ (in time). These measurements, as well as a brief analysis, show that even strong departures from Gaussianity do not necessarily yield values appreciably different from unity for the ratio Λ/λ. Further, the variation of N0/N0 max across the boundary layer is found to correlate with the familiar wall and outer coordinates; the outer scaling for N0 max is totally inappropriate, and the inner scaling shows only a weak Reynolds-number dependence. It is also found that the distribution of the interval between successive zero-crossings can be approximated by a combination of a lognormal and an exponential, or (if the shortest intervals are ignored) even of two exponentials, one of which characterizes crossings whose duration is of the order of the wall-variable timescale ν/U2*, while the other characterizes crossings whose duration is of the order of the large-eddy timescale δ/U[infty infinity]. The significance of these results is discussed, and it is particularly argued that the pulse frequency of Rao, Narasimha & Badri Narayanan (1971) is appreciably less than the zero-crossing rate.

(Published Online April 20 2006)
(Received February 1 1982)
(Revised August 1 1983)

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