Definition of Turbulence

Turbulence refers to the intricate, disorganized, and irregular motion of fluid particles — whether air or water. Rapid alterations in velocity, pressure, and temperature mark this state. Ubiquitous in both natural and synthetic settings, turbulence significantly affects the transfer of momentum, heat, and additional properties within a fluidic system.

Causes of Turbulence

Shear Forces: When fluid layers possessing distinct velocities interface, turbulence frequently arises. Shear forces provoke the fluid particles into pursuing irregular routes.

Obstructions: Any impediment, including terrain features or architectural structures, may disrupt the seamless movement of fluid, triggering turbulent activity in their wake.

Thermal Effects: Divergences in temperature can invoke variations in fluid density. This discrepancy gives rise to buoyancy-driven turbulence, whereby warmer, lighter fluid ascends and cooler, denser fluid descends.

Characteristics of Turbulent Flow

Unpredictability: Turbulent flow, inherently unpredictable and non-linear, presents challenges in accurately modeling and predicting its conduct.

Three-Dimensionality: In contrast to laminar flow, typically two-dimensional, turbulent flow exhibits inherent three-dimensionality, with fluid particles in motion in all possible trajectories.

Dissipation: Energy dissipation in turbulence occurs through the creation of minor vortices and eddies, transforming kinetic energy into thermal energy.

Mixing: Turbulent flow encourages the fusion of fluid properties, inclusive of temperature, pressure, and chemical species concentration. This interaction is vital in multiple natural and industrial applications.

Turbulence in the Atmosphere

Weather and Climate: Turbulence has a significant impact on the transport of heat, moisture, and momentum in the Earth's atmosphere, thus influencing weather formations and climatic conditions.

Aircraft Encounters: Aircraft may face hazards due to turbulence, as it can induce abrupt and unexpected fluctuations in altitude and speed, thereby causing discomfort to passengers and possible damage to the aircraft.

Turbulence in Water Bodies

Ocean Currents: Turbulence holds fundamental importance in shaping and dictating ocean currents, thus influencing the distribution of heat, nutrients, and dissolved gases within global oceans.

River Flow: Turbulence within rivers can govern sediment transport, erosion, and pollutant mixing, which bear implications for water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
Updated: May 31, 2023
Published by: Weather Atlas | About Us