Two Series of Detailed Turbulence Measurements in a Small Subtropical Estuarine System

Trevethan, Mark, Chanson, Hubert and Brown, Richard (2006) Two Series of Detailed Turbulence Measurements in a Small Subtropical Estuarine System. Report No. CH58/06, Division of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland.

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Author Trevethan, Mark
Chanson, Hubert
Brown, Richard
Title Two Series of Detailed Turbulence Measurements in a Small Subtropical Estuarine System
School, Department or Centre Division of Civil Engineering
Institution The University of Queensland
Open Access Status Other
Report Number Report No. CH58/06
Publication date 2006-03-01
Subject 260499 Oceanography not elsewhere classified
291200 Maritime Engineering
291101 Environmental Engineering Modelling
291803 Turbulent Flows
240500 Classical Physics
260500 Hydrology
260400 Oceanography
290800 Civil Engineering
240502 Fluid Physics
260502 Surfacewater Hydrology
290000 Engineering and Technology
291100 Environmental Engineering
291299 Maritime Engineering not elsewhere classified
291800 Interdisciplinary Engineering
300100 Soil and Water Sciences
299900 Other Engineering and Technology
290802 Water and Sanitary Engineering
300105 Applied Hydrology (Drainage, Flooding, Irrigation, Quality, etc.)
299999 Engineering and Technology not elsewhere classified
Abstract/Summary In natural waterways and estuaries, the momentum mixing is a turbulent process directly relevant to the understanding of sediment transport, release of wastewater into ecosystems and storm-water runoff during flood events. The predictions of contaminant dispersion in estuaries are highly sensitive to specific features of the natural system. They cannot be predicted analytically and must rely upon exhaustive field data for accurate calibration and validation. Herein detailed turbulence and physio-chemistry field measurements were conducted in a small subtropical estuary of Eastern Australia with a semi-diurnal tidal regime. The turbulent velocity measurements were performed continuously at high frequency for 25 hours during spring tide conditions and for 50 hours during neap tide conditions. The velocities were measured with acoustic Doppler velocimetry and a thorough post-processing technique was applied to the velocity signals. The measurement technique used in this study was well suited to the investigation of momentum transport in small estuarine systems with shallow water depths (e.g. less than 0.5 m at low tides). During the field studies, some tidal asymmetry was observed systematically. The time-averaged streamwise velocity during the ebb tides was smaller than that during the flood tide. The turbulent fluctuations next to the bed were highly intermittent. The third (skewness) and fourth (kurtosis) moments of velocity fluctuations were within the ranges of -0.6 to +0.6 and -1 to +2 respectively. The horizontal and vertical turbulence intensities were typically within the range of vy'/vx' ~ 1 and vz'/vx' ~ 0.3 to 0.8 implying some turbulence anisotropy. The magnitudes were similar to earlier field work results in estuaries and experimental measurements in turbulent open channel flows. The time-averaged Reynolds stresses vx*vz were proportional to minus the time-averaged streamwise velocity, and the dimensionless Reynolds stresses Rvxvz = vx*vz/(vx'*vz') were similar for both spring and neap tide conditions. The probability distribution functions of tangential Reynolds stresses differed substantially from Gaussian distributions. Based upon auto-correlation analyses, the integral and dissipation time scales were systematically analysed. The dimensionless integral time scales were found to be about : TEy/TEx ~ 1 and TEz/TEx ~ 2 to 3 through all the field studies. The findings were consistent with the anisotropy reported above and with an earlier study in a tidal channel. The dissipation time scales were typically between 1 and 10 ms. They were basically independent of the tidal phase, tidal range and sampling elevation. Some observations of momentum mixing coefficients showed a large data scatter spreading over more than three orders of magnitudes, associated with relatively rapid variations with time. The results demonstrated that the assumption of "constant" mixing coefficient was simply untrue. In addition, some unusual events are reported including some multiple flow reversal events at slack tides, probably induced by some form of resonance. A front was also observed once. The data suggested that the front passage was associated with some temperature anomaly next to the free-surface, and some secondary transverse circulation next to the bed. A striking feature of the analysed data sets is the large fluctuations in all turbulence characteristics, including the momentum exchange coefficients, during the tidal cycles. This feature was rarely documented, but an important difference between the ADV data sets used in this study from earlier reported measurements is that the present data were collected continuously at high frequency for relatively long periods. It is believed that the present results provided a picture general enough to be used, as a first approximation, to characterise the flow field in similar small subtropical estuaries. A new set of field deployments is planned to clarify the upper estuary dynamics in more details.
Keyword turbulence
subtropical estuary (sub-tropical estuarine system)
momentum mixing
turbulent Reynolds stresses
turbulent intensity
integral time scales
dissipation time scales
acoustic doppler velocimetry
field measurements
flow reversal events
turbulent mixing coefficients
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Additional Notes TREVETHAN, M., CHANSON, H., and BROWN, R.J. (2006). "Two Series of Detailed Turbulence Measurements in a Small Subtropical Estuarine System." Report No. CH58/06, Div. of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, March, 153 pages (ISBN 1864998520).

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Created: Tue, 04 Jul 2006, 10:00:00 EST by Hubert Chanson on behalf of School of Engineering