Wake Collapse in a Stratified Fluid

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Science  28 Jul 1967:
Vol. 157, Issue 3787, pp. 421-423
DOI: 10.1126/science.157.3787.421


A two-dimensional model is used to obtain quantitative data on characteristics of turbulently mixed wakes of bodies submerged in stratified fluids (more dense below than above). The time between turbulent mixing and maximum expansion of the wake before vertical collapse starts is 0.44 T, where T is the local Väisälä-Brunt period. Time after mixing for maximum rate of horizontal spreading is about 2.0 T. The average Väisälä-Brunt period for the oceans and atmosphere is discussed. It is predicted that the wake collapse phenomenon is not unusual in these environments. The characteristic time for the most active phase of vertical wake collapse should be between a few minutes to several tens of minutes. Qualitative observations of aircraft vapor trails tend to confirm that the phenomenon does occur at full scale.