Suppression of vertical flow separation over steep slopes in open channels by horizontal flow contraction

Y. B. Broekema*, R. J. Labeur, W. S.J. Uijttewaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Flow separation and its control have been the subject of intensive research for decades. Flow separation occurs when the boundary layer loses contact with the associated confining wall, which is usually caused by a pressure gradient acting against the local flow direction. Numerous strategies exist to control flow separation, and in this study we demonstrate experimentally that vertical flow separation over steep slopes in shallow free-surface flows may be suppressed by contracting the flow horizontally upstream of the slope. We found that, unexpectedly, introducing lateral non-uniformity in the upstream flow field could suppress vertical flow separation for steep slopes up to 1 in 2. This study reveals the possibility of two different flow states over steep slopes; (i) a vertically attached flow combined with horizontal convergence, and (ii) a vertically detached flow combined with horizontal divergence. A detailed analysis of the dynamics of the two different flow states is presented. Although a predictive relation determining the transition point between the two flow states was not found in the current study, the observed phenomena were shown to be strongly related to the magnitude of the lateral gradient at the upstream edge of the slope. The results demonstrate a significant influence of the vertical flow state - separated or attached - on the shear stress at the confining boundaries of the flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA8
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • geophysical and geological flows
  • turbulent flows
  • wakes/jets


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