Bill Smyth

Professor, Physical Oceanography


College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
Oregon State University, Corvallis OR

414A Burt Hall
(541) 737 3029




Research Gate

















"No single thing abides, but all things flow." Heraclitus

Turbulence Theory and Modeling

Fluid turbulence represents a major unsolved problem in applied physics, as well as an essential component governing the behavior of geophysical fluid systems. Efforts to understand and parameterize turbulent mixing have been a research focus over the past several decades, and continue to be essential to improved understanding and prediction of the evolution of Earth's atmosphere and oceans.

The past few decades have brought tremendous insights into the physics of turbulence, due largely to direct numerical simulations (DNS). This new understanding applies almost entirely to the simplest idealization, i.e. stationary, homogeneous, isotropic turbulence. In nature, turbulence never conforms to this simple picture. In particular, geophysical turbulence is almost always affected by ambient shear, density stratification and planetary rotation, which complicate the physics greatly. The turbulence modeling program at COAS aims to extend state-of-the-art theories of turbulence to small-scale geophysical flows by accounting for these effects. One of the most important examples geoophysical turbulence occurs at interfaces between air or water masses with different properties:

primer: Mixing at interfaces in the atmosphere and oceans (and why it matters)

textbook: All Things Flow: Fluid Mechanics for the Natural Sciences


OC670: Fluid Mechanics for the Natural Sciences

OC680: Stability of Geophysical Flows

XMOD-II: Upper Ocean Dynamics: Diapycnal Processes

Other materials of interest:

Introduction to turbulence and shear instability
Matlab software to solve the viscous Taylor-Goldstein problem
Matlab version of the KPP turbulence model

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation

Pleistocene forests on the Oregon coast

Questions or comments?  

To CEOAS Ocean Mixing Group

To CEOAS home page