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Investigation of Atmospheric Turbulence


MacCready, Paul Beattie (1952) Investigation of Atmospheric Turbulence. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/F8AR-VH67.


Satisfactory measurement techniques were developed which overcame the four principal experimental problems arising in the investigation of atmospheric turbulence. 1) The data are made reproducible for statistical analyses by recording them on a portable magnetic tape recorder. 2) Measurements at elevations up to several hundred meters are made feasible by the use of a multi-cable tethering system for a balloon which supports the measuring devices. 3) and 4) The problems of measuring wind velocity fluctuations over broad ranges (frequencies between 0 and 50 cycles per second, and magnitudes between 1/4 and 20 meters per second) are solved by using hot wire anemometers together with non-linear amplifiers. The statistical analysis of recordings made under various meteorological conditions indicates that Kolmogoroff's similarity hypothesis, concerning the isotropy of turbulence in a certain inertial sub-range of eddy sizes, is directly applicable to eddies of sizes ranging from under 10 cm. to dimensions larger than the elevation of measurement. Over this range the "2/3 law" holds for the autocorrelation coefficient and the "-5/3 law" holds for the energy spectrum, within the accuracy of the measurements. The large eddy limit of the range of the "2/3 law" appears to be considerably extended by strong thermal instability. Heat flux measurements from the correlation between temperature and vertical velocity agree reasonably with the heat flux measured with heat meters. At 70 cm. under moderate wind conditions over half the heat flux is due to eddies of periods less than two seconds. Momentum flux measurements from velocity correlations were inconclusive.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Aeronautics and Physics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Minor Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Stewart, Homer Joseph
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 January 1952
Additional Information:Title varies in 1952 Commencement program: Atmospheric Turbulence
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-11032003-104542
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4382
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:04 Nov 2003
Last Modified:05 May 2023 00:00

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PDF (MacCready,Jr._pb_1952.pdf) - Final Version
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