Definition of Turbulence

Turbulence is defined as the complex, chaotic, and unforeseen movement of fluid particles, be it air or water. This swift fluctuation in velocity, pressure, and temperature has a broad presence in both natural and artificial surroundings and carries considerable implications for the transfer of momentum, heat, and other attributes within a fluid framework.

Causes of Turbulence

Shear Forces: The encounter between fluid strata exhibiting differing velocities frequently incites turbulence, as shear forces stir the fluid particles into adopting erratic paths.

Obstructions: Hindrances — mountains or buildings, for example — have the capacity to impede the smooth progression of fluid, giving rise to turbulent movements following these structures.

Thermal Effects: Disparities in temperature can induce alterations in fluid density, instigating buoyancy-driven turbulence. In this circumstance, warmer, less dense fluid elevates, while cooler, denser fluid descends.

Characteristics of Turbulent Flow

Unpredictability: Turbulent flow is notably unpredictable and non-linear, making it difficult to model and forecast its behavior with precision.

Three-Dimensionality: Unlike laminar flow, often two-dimensional, turbulent flow inherently possesses three-dimensionality, with fluid particles mobilizing in every conceivable direction.

Dissipation: Through the creation of small-scale whirlpools and eddies, turbulence dissipates energy, transmuting kinetic energy into heat.

Mixing: The process of turbulent flow fosters the amalgamation of fluid properties, including temperature, pressure, and chemical species concentration. This mixing is a crucial process in numerous natural and industrial systems.

Turbulence in the Atmosphere

Weather and Climate: Turbulence substantially contributes to the transfer of heat, moisture, and momentum within the Earth's atmosphere, thereby shaping weather configurations and climate.

Aircraft Encounters: Turbulence can present risks for aircraft, instigating sudden, unanticipated shifts in altitude and velocity, resulting in passenger discomfort and potential harm to the aircraft.

Turbulence in Water Bodies

Ocean Currents: Turbulence underpins the generation and behavior of ocean currents, affecting the dispersal of heat, nutrients, and dissolved gases across global oceans.

River Flow: Turbulence in rivers can impact sediment transportation, erosion, and the integration of pollutants, carrying consequences for water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
Updated: May 31, 2023
Published by: Weather U.S. | About Us