Uniform-momentum zones in a turbulent boundary layer subjected to freestream turbulence
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Fluid Mechanics. 2021, 915 (A109), . 10.1017/jfm.2021.102
The instantaneous structure of a turbulent boundary layer that has developed beneath freestream turbulence (FST) was investigated with planar particle image velocimetry. Measurements were performed in the streamwise–wall-normal plane at a position Rex=U∞x/ν=2.3×106 downstream of the boundary layer origin. FST was generated with an active grid placed upstream of a boundary layer plate. Three cases were investigated with FST intensity increasing from approximately zero to 12.8 %. It is shown that internal interfaces, separating areas of approximately uniform momentum, are present for all cases and show a dependence on the FST. In particular, the number and length of the uniform-momentum zones (UMZs) decrease with increasing FST. The modal velocities associated with the UMZs are distributed in approximately the same way regardless of the condition of the outer flow, suggesting a degree of resilience of the instantaneous structure to the freestream. Tracking the top edge of the upper-most UMZ revealed that this contour approaches the wall for increasing FST. Finally, it is demonstrated that the observed first-order phenomena in a turbulent boundary layer subjected to FST can be modelled by superimposing an isotropic turbulence field on a turbulent boundary layer field, which supports the hypothesis that the underlying structure of the boundary layer appears to remain largely intact if the naturally occurring fluctuations in the turbulent boundary layer exceed the energy of the FST.