0
$\begingroup$

By turbulence I mean a chaotic field full of eddies. As far as I'm aware this is the state of most fluids, like the airflow in an room, unless effort has been taken to make the flow laminar. Shouldn't these movements be visible everywhere on the surface of bodies of water, as distorting their ripples and waves?

Sometimes vortices do appear, but just a few at a time under specific conditions and not in the same chaotic fashion as turbulence would suggest.

A possible explanation I can think of is that momentum carried through turbulence is negligible compared to surface tension and forces creating waves. So disturbances don't deform the surface even though they exist a short distance below it.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ You can see turbulence in any fast-moving stream, and you can see the turbulence disappear when the stream reaches a slow-moving section. $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2021 at 14:29

1 Answer 1

2
$\begingroup$

It takes a strong current to distort the surface visibly. A chaotic turbulent flow can be present where most of the flow is not strong.

If you stir a cup of coffee, you only see a whirlpool distort the surface distort for a moment, even though the flow continues flow continues for a while.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds reasonable, sort of what I expected but thanks for the confirmation. $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2021 at 11:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.