Lagrangian scale of particle dispersion in turbulence

Nat Commun. 2013;4:2013. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3013.


Transport of mass, heat and momentum in turbulent flows by far exceeds that in stable laminar fluid motions. As turbulence is a state of a flow dominated by a hierarchy of scales, it is not clear which of these scales mostly affects particle dispersion. Also, it is not uncommon that turbulence coexists with coherent vortices. Here we report on Lagrangian statistics in laboratory two-dimensional turbulence. Our results provide direct experimental evidence that fluid particle dispersion is determined by a single measurable Lagrangian scale related to the forcing scale. These experiments offer a new way of predicting dispersion in turbulent flows in which one of the low energy scales possesses temporal coherency. The results are applicable to oceanographic and atmospheric data, such as those obtained from trajectories of free-drifting instruments in the ocean.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't