PIV uncertainty propagation

Andrea Sciacchitano, Bernhard Wieneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

248 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


This paper discusses the propagation of the instantaneous uncertainty of PIV measurements to statistical and instantaneous quantities of interest derived from the velocity field. The expression of the uncertainty of vorticity, velocity divergence, mean value and Reynolds stresses is derived. It is shown that the uncertainty of vorticity and velocity divergence requires the knowledge of the spatial correlation between the error of the x and y particle image displacement, which depends upon the measurement spatial resolution. The uncertainty of statistical quantities is often dominated by the random uncertainty due to the finite sample size and decreases with the square root of the effective number of independent samples. Monte Carlo simulations are conducted to assess the accuracy of the uncertainty propagation formulae. Furthermore, three experimental assessments are carried out. In the first experiment, a turntable is used to simulate a rigid rotation flow field. The estimated uncertainty of the vorticity is compared with the actual vorticity error root-mean-square, with differences between the two quantities within 5-10% for different interrogation window sizes and overlap factors. A turbulent jet flow is investigated in the second experimental assessment. The reference velocity, which is used to compute the reference value of the instantaneous flow properties of interest, is obtained with an auxiliary PIV system, which features a higher dynamic range than the measurement system. Finally, the uncertainty quantification of statistical quantities is assessed via PIV measurements in a cavity flow. The comparison between estimated uncertainty and actual error demonstrates the accuracy of the proposed uncertainty propagation methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number084006
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2016


  • linear error propagation
  • particle image velocimetry
  • spatial resolution
  • uncertainty propagation
  • uncertainty quantification


Dive into the research topics of 'PIV uncertainty propagation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this