Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Hot-wire spatial resolution issues in wall-bounded turbulence


a1 Walter Bassett Aerodynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

a2 Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK


Careful reassessment of new and pre-existing data shows that recorded scatter in the hot-wire-measured near-wall peak in viscous-scaled streamwise turbulence intensity is due in large part to the simultaneous competing effects of the Reynolds number and viscous-scaled wire length l+. An empirical expression is given to account for these effects. These competing factors can explain much of the disparity in existing literature, in particular explaining how previous studies have incorrectly concluded that the inner-scaled near-wall peak is independent of the Reynolds number. We also investigate the appearance of the so-called outer peak in the broadband streamwise intensity, found by some researchers to occur within the log region of high-Reynolds-number boundary layers. We show that the ‘outer peak’ is consistent with the attenuation of small scales due to large l+. For turbulent boundary layers, in the absence of spatial resolution problems, there is no outer peak up to the Reynolds numbers investigated here (Reτ = 18830). Beyond these Reynolds numbers – and for internal geometries – the existence of such peaks remains open to debate. Fully mapped energy spectra, obtained with a range of l+, are used to demonstrate this phenomenon. We also establish the basis for a ‘maximum flow frequency’, a minimum time scale that the full experimental system must be capable of resolving, in order to ensure that the energetic scales are not attenuated. It is shown that where this criterion is not met (in this instance due to insufficient anemometer/probe response), an outer peak can be reproduced in the streamwise intensity even in the absence of spatial resolution problems. It is also shown that attenuation due to wire length can erode the region of the streamwise energy spectra in which we would normally expect to see kx−1 scaling. In doing so, we are able to rationalize much of the disparity in pre-existing literature over the kx−1 region of self-similarity. Not surprisingly, the attenuated spectra also indicate that Kolmogorov-scaled spectra are subject to substantial errors due to wire spatial resolution issues. These errors persist to wavelengths far beyond those which we might otherwise assume from simple isotropic assumptions of small-scale motions. The effects of hot-wire length-to-diameter ratio (l/d) are also briefly investigated. For the moderate wire Reynolds numbers investigated here, reducing l/d from 200 to 100 has a detrimental effect on measured turbulent fluctuations at a wide range of energetic scales, affecting both the broadband intensity and the energy spectra.

(Received July 17 2008)

(Revised April 08 2009)

(Accepted April 08 2009)