Publication Details

Yang, S., Tan, S. Keat. & Wang, X. (2012). Mechanism of secondary currents in open channel flows. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117 (F4), 1-13.


This paper describes the conditions for initiation and maintenance of secondary currents in open channel flows. By analyzing the Reynolds equation in the wall-normal and wall-tangent directions, this study reveals that, like other types of vortices, the secondary currents are originated in the near-boundary region, and the magnitude (or strength) of secondary flow is proportional to the lateral gradient of near-wall velocity. The near-wall secondary flow always moves from the region with lower velocity (or lower boundary shear stress) to the location with higher velocity (or higher boundary shear stress). Subsequently, the near-boundary secondary flow creeps into the main flow and drives circulation within a region enclosed by lines of zero total shear stress, leading to anisotropy of turbulence in the main flow region. This paper also discusses typical secondary currents in open channel flows and presents the relationship between sediment transport and secondary currents. The formation of sand ridges widely observed on the Earth surface is explained in the light of the proposed relationship.



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