MSE Research Project Database

Turbulent transport in rotating and stratified flows

Project Leader: Joseph Klewicki
Staff: Jimmy Philip
Student: Tanmay Agarwal
Collaborators: John Elsnab (Mechanical Engineering), Colm Caulfield (Cambridge)
Sponsors: The University of Melbourne
Primary Contact: Joseph Klewicki (
Keywords: fluid dynamics; rotating flow; stratified flow; turbulence
Disciplines: Mechanical Engineering

This research project aims to clarify the energy transfer processes between the different sized eddies in a turbulent fluid flows when subjected to the influences of density stratification and rotation. The scientific significance of this work stems from these influences having direct connection to how the overall ocean energy balance is established. Broader societal significance derives from the centrality of the ocean energy balance to the accuracy of climate change predictions. The primary outcome of the research will be the clearest physical and quantitative elucidation to date of the energy exchange between eddies of varying sizes as a function of the parameters associated with density stratification and system rotation.
This research seeks to reveal important information about turbulent mixing under the infuence of density stratifi cation or system rotation. The proposed research will be conducted using judiciously designed laboratory experiments that target clarity regarding the underlying physical mechanisms, and the changes to these mechanisms as the relevant governing parameters are varied. These experiments will employ a comprehensive suite of instruments. Notable among these is a molecular tagging measurement system, which will uniquely provide fully spatially resolved measurements of the smallest scale velocity and temperature fluctuations within the subject flows. For the clearest elucidation of the underlying mechanisms, turbulent mixing under the influence of strati fication and rotation will be studied separately experimentally, but analysed within the context of a single uni fied theoretical framework.

Visualization of the layering phenomenon that occurs in the turbulent agitation of a stratified fluid