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Book Review by Gerhard H. Jirka, 3 Fellow, ASCE

Turbulence is the customary state of flow in all large-scale fluid systems

relevant to engineering, environmental, or geophysical problems. However,
this fact is barely reflected in the limited coverage that is afforded to tur-
bulence in practically all current textbooks on fluid mechanics--no matter
how recent an edition, and no matter whether on the introductory under-
graduate or the advanced graduate level (Tritton's Physical Fluid Dynamics
appears to be the only exception). Seen from today's vantage point, the
coverage of turbulent flow ranges from the scant and skimpy to the outright
naive in the textbooks used for U.S. undergraduate education in engineering
fluid mechanics. A text may include Moody's diagram for the quadratic
friction law in pipe flow, Manning's equation for open-channel-flow resis-
tance, and perhaps Prandtl's mixing-length hypothesis, leading to the log-
arithmic law for turbulent velocity distributions. Despite 30 or 40 years of
research and detailed experimental insights into the mechanics of turbulent
flows, the novice student still is not exposed to a minimal, physically realistic
description of turbulent flows. Enough is known to give a practically useful
and reliable account of turbulent flow: Its fluctuating properties; its in-
tensities and length scales relative to the mean flow; its energy budget; its
role in distributing momentum, heat, and mass; and its linkage to secondary
flows would be some of the topics covered.
The lack, to date, of suitable comprehensive summaries of the recent
research on turbulent flows has probably been a key factor for the delay in
formulating a meaningful teaching approach. This has surely been the case
for open-channel flows. Thus, the new monograph, Turbulence in Open-
Channel Flows, by I. Nezu and H. Nakagawa, both of Kyoto University,
published under the auspices of the International Association of Hydraulic
Research, is most welcome, indeed. The monograph gives a definite, con-
cise, and well-documented account of open-channel-flow turbulence, in-
cluding its analytical description and modern experimental findings. But
beyond that, it also contains a number of features that make it lively and
interesting to read and study, such as a historical summary of turbulence
research, an appraisal of instruments for turbulence experimentation, and
the authors' views on future developments in modeling of turbulence.
The book is organized into two parts, comprising seven chapters each.
Part I, Statistical Structures of Turbulence, deals with the average properties
of turbulent flows in open channels, such as spatial distributions of mean
and fluctuating velocities, of shear stresses, and of turbulent kinetic energy
and its spectral variations, all of which are statistical measures obtained
from long-term measurements of these flows. Chapter 1 gives a summary
of historical developments. An intriguing aspect is a flowchart tracing the
key contributions and cross-fertilizations that have shaped turbulence re-
search in the 20th century, leading up to recent modeling efforts in large-
scale geophysical turbulent flows. Chapter 2 provides a rigorous review and

cBy Iehisa Nezu and Hiroji Nakagawa: 286 pages; IAHR Monograph, A. A.
Balkema, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1993; $85.00.
3Prof. and Dir., DeFrees Hydr. Lab., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y. 14853.

J. Hydraul. Eng., 1994, 120(10): 1235-1237

physical interpretation of the different measures and parameters used in the
description of turbulence. Much of that material is derived from the closely
related topic of mechanical boundary layer turbulence, which provides the
benchmark for open-channel flows. Experimental techniques for water-flow-
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turbulence studies are treated in Chapter 3, which includes a tabular sum-

mary of past contributions and data sources, and a critical appraisal of
individual techniques with emphasis on hot-film and laser-Doppler ane-
mometry, drawing on the authors' own extensive experience in the devel-
opment of these modern methods.
The experimental evidence on the two-dimensional behavior--that is,
the distribution in the vertical--of turbulent open-channel flows is sum-
marized in Chapter 4 and compared to relevant theoretical descriptions.
This chapter contains data in support of the law of the wall and the wake
function at larger distances above the bed. The role of the free surface--
the major factor distinguishing open-channel flows from simple boundary
layer or closed conduit flows--is elucidated. In open-channel flows, whether
in wide or narrow channels, weak secondary circulations are superimposed
on the two-dimensional mean flow. The type and origin of these three-
dimensional circulations are examined in Chapter 5 on the basis of the mean
flow equations and extensive experimental data. Chapter 7 concludes Part
I with a brief review of turbulence models, ranging from simple mixing-
length models to second-order Reynolds stress models, that can be used to
predict several of the observed statistical flow properties in open channels.
Several calculation examples illustrate the performance of these models,
satisfactory for most engineering purposes, and also some conceptual dif-
ficulties, notably in the surface boundary conditions.
Part II, Coherent Structures in Open-Channel Flows, addresses the role
of individual distinguishable vortical flow structures that arise, grow, inter-
act, and decay within the overall turbulent flow. Recent developments in
flow visualization techniques have provided direct insight into the behavior
of such coherent structures and their relation with the mean flow. Some of
them arise out of instabilities of the near-bed boundary layer (the so-called
busting phenomena) and others may be larger-scale instabilities of the out-
side flow, perhaps linked to the secondary circulations. Compared to Part
I, some of the material presented here is speculative, episodic, and much
less definitive. For example, the authors' attempt to provide a distinct clas-
sification of the different types of vortical structures into six types appears
inconsistent and confusing to this reviewer, inasmuch as internal flow in-
stabilities are lumped together with external influences, such as flows around
obstacles. Or, the authors' propositions for "double structure" or "triple
structure" models of turbulent flow seem nothing more than metaphors,
with little implication on the actual predictive modeling of these phenomena.
Given the very recent nature of research on this topic, however, such pre-
liminary and personal interpretations are to be expected and are certainly
within the spirit of a monograph. A consensus on the physical aspects of
these coherent structures and their actual contribution to momentum and
mass transport is still outstanding and probably faraway. Nevertheless, the
chapters in Part II contain interesting data from flow-visualization experi-
ments on boundary-layer bursting, useful analysis techniques for detection
of flow structures, examples of direct numerical simulation studies, evidence
from field data on river flows, and finally a review of the likely role of
coherent structures in sediment transport. All this is timely and stimulating

J. Hydraul. Eng., 1994, 120(10): 1235-1237

The monograph by Nezu and Nakagawa on open-channel flow turbulence
will become a standard reference volume for both the researcher and the
practical engineer interested in understanding and designing open-channel
flows. Finally, and returning to the introductory theme, it is also hoped that
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some of the material contained therein, especially that in Part I, will find
its way into updated editions of fluid mechanics textbooks, leading to a
more modern and physically realistic approach toward the teaching of tur-


J. Hydraul. Eng., 1994, 120(10): 1235-1237