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The University of Southampton

Research project: Transition and turbulence in breaking gravity waves

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When a density stratified atmospheric wind crosses a mountain range, a sequence of lee-waves is often produced. One or more of these may steepen and then break. We have been studying the resulting turbulent patch, which can lead to serious aircraft damage, and the transition processes leading to it. Much of the work is in collaboration with a colleague at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Royal Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia.

The work follows a sequence of laboratory experiments conducted over a quarter of a century ago, on flows which are now amenable to computational methods. Our recent computations have required over 1.3 billion mesh points and the resources of the UK’s national HECToR supercomputer system.

Currently, attention is being concentrated on the transition processes prior to development of the fully turbulent patch.

Hovering over each caption with the cursor will display extended figure explanations.

Click on the images below to enlarge

Note the two turbulent patches aloft; flow from left to right.
Mountain lee waves
Feature of the transition. Looking downstream.
Rayleigh-Taylor mushrooms

Key Publications

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