Experimental investigation of turbulence generated by breaking waves in water of intermediate depth Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper reports a set of laboratory data for breaking waves in the water of intermediate depth. A monochromatic wave train with a wave height of 14.5 cm and a wavelength of 121 cm was generated in a water depth, h, of 20 cm. The wave train breaks consistently at a distance of about 2h from the wave generator. The instantaneous velocity fields under the breaking waves on a two-dimensional vertical plane were measured by using the particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique. By repeating the same experiments twenty times and performing the ensemble average, mean velocity, mean vorticity, turbulence intensity, and other flow properties such as the Reynolds stress and the mean strain rate were calculated. Outside the aerated region, where the density of air bubbles is high, the experimental data show that the mean vorticity was of the same order of magnitude as (C/h) (≈6 s-1) with C being the phase speed. The maximum turbulence intensity outside the aerated region was in the order of magnitude of 0.1 C (≈11 cm/s). The time-averaged (over one wave period) turbulence intensity under the wave trough level was one order of magnitude smaller, i.e., it was about 0.04 C (≈4.8 cm/s). Based the experimental data, the transport equation for turbulent kinetic energy was further examined. The turbulence dissipation rate and its time scale were also estimated. Under the trough level at the measurement section, which was about 3h downstream from the breaking point, the turbulence production, and dissipation were of the same order of magnitude, but not identical. The turbulence advection, production, and dissipation were equally important, while the turbulence diffusion was almost negligible. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.

author list (cited authors)

  • Chang, K., & Liu, P.

citation count

  • 62

publication date

  • November 1999