Journal of Fluid Mechanics


A study on boundary-layer transition induced by free-stream turbulence


a1 Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India

a2 EAD, National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore 560017, India


Boundary-layer transition at different free-stream turbulence levels has been investigated using the particle-image velocimetry technique. The measurements show organized positive and negative fluctuations of the streamwise fluctuating velocity component, which resemble the forward and backward jet-like structures reported in the direct numerical simulation of bypass transition. These fluctuations are associated with unsteady streaky structures. Large inclined high shear-layer regions are also observed and the organized negative fluctuations are found to appear consistently with these inclined shear layers, along with highly inflectional instantaneous streamwise velocity profiles. These inflectional velocity profiles are similar to those in the ribbon-induced boundary-layer transition. An oscillating-inclined shear layer appears to be the turbulent spot-precursor. The measurements also enabled to compare the actual turbulent spot in bypass transition with the simulated one. A proper orthogonal decomposition analysis of the fluctuating velocity field is carried out. The dominant flow structures of the organized positive and negative fluctuations are captured by the first few eigenfunction modes carrying most of the fluctuating energy. The similarity in the dominant eigenfunctions at different Reynolds numbers suggests that the flow prevails its structural identity even in intermittent flows. This analysis also indicates the possibility of the existence of a spatio-temporal symmetry associated with a travelling wave in the flow.

(Received November 06 2008)

(Revised April 29 2010)

(Accepted April 29 2010)

(Online publication July 15 2010)

Key words:

  • boundary layers;
  • transition to turbulence


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