We consider strongly confined, stably stratified shear flows generated as a lock exchange in a tube inclined at an angle of theta = 45 degrees. This paper focuses on a transitional regime, in which the flow alternates between two distinct states: laminar, parallel shear flow and intense transverse motion characteristic of turbulence. Laminar-turbulent cycles were captured at Atwood numbers At equivalent to (rho(2) - rho(1))/(rho(1) + rho(2)) ranging from 2.45 x 10(-3) to 4.0 x 10(-3), where (rho(1),rho(2)) are the initial densities of the two fluids, with multiple cycles observed at At = 2.55 x 10(-3). The evolution of the density and velocity fields in these flows was measured simultaneously using laser-induced fluorescence and particle image velocimetry. During each laminar-turbulent cycle, the axial velocity exhibits a distinctive ramp-cliff pattern, indicating that the flow accelerates as it relaminarizes, then decelerates rapidly as the Kelvin-Helmholtz billows break down. Within the range of experimental conditions, transverse stratification does not directly determine the onset of instability. Instead, the data suggest that a necessary criterion for the onset of instability is for the local Reynolds number to exceed 2200, with only a weak dependence on the Richardson number.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear and Soft Matter Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Jun 2012|