Turbulent secondary flows in wall turbulence: vortex forcing, scaling arguments, and similarity solution

  • William Anderson
  • Jianzhi Yang
  • Kalyan Shrestha
  • Ankit Awasthi
Original Article


Spanwise surface heterogeneity beneath high-Reynolds number, fully-rough wall turbulence is known to induce a mean secondary flow in the form of counter-rotating streamwise vortices—this arrangement is prevalent, for example, in open-channel flows relevant to hydraulic engineering. These counter-rotating vortices flank regions of predominant excess(deficit) in mean streamwise velocity and downwelling(upwelling) in mean vertical velocity. The secondary flows have been definitively attributed to the lower surface conditions, and are now known to be a manifestation of Prandtl’s secondary flow of the second kind—driven and sustained by spatial heterogeneity of components of the turbulent (Reynolds averaged) stress tensor (Anderson et al. J Fluid Mech 768:316–347, 2015). The spacing between adjacent surface heterogeneities serves as a control on the spatial extent of the counter-rotating cells, while their intensity is controlled by the spanwise gradient in imposed drag (where larger gradients associated with more dramatic transitions in roughness induce stronger cells). In this work, we have performed an order of magnitude analysis of the mean (Reynolds averaged) transport equation for streamwise vorticity, which has revealed the scaling dependence of streamwise circulation intensity upon characteristics of the problem. The scaling arguments are supported by a recent numerical parametric study on the effect of spacing. Then, we demonstrate that mean streamwise velocity can be predicted a priori via a similarity solution to the mean streamwise vorticity transport equation. A vortex forcing term has been used to represent the effects of spanwise topographic heterogeneity within the flow. Efficacy of the vortex forcing term was established with a series of large-eddy simulation cases wherein vortex forcing model parameters were altered to capture different values of spanwise spacing, all of which demonstrate that the model can impose the effects of spanwise topographic heterogeneity (absent the need to actually model roughness elements); these results also justify use of the vortex forcing model in the similarity solution.


Turbulence Vortex forcing model Streamfunction 



This work was supported by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Grant # FA9550-14-1-0394 (WA, JY) and Grant # FA9550-14-1-0101 (WA, AA), and by the Texas General Land Office, Contract # 16-019-0009283 (WA, KS).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  2. 2.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina

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