Emily Moder, 2013, Civil and Environmental Engineering

My internship was based in the field of fluid mechanics research, looking specifically at the behavior of turbulent air flow when it is subjected to different temperature profiles. When warmer air flows over a cooler surface (which often happens at night or in polar regions) the turbulence is dampened because of the thermal stratification; this behavior is not well understood, and can affect things like transport and mixing of air pollutants. The project I was working on used a tool called partical image velocimetry (PIV) to create visualizations of different turbulent structures, like vortices, to characterize the behavior of the flow. A thermocouple mounted on a traversing system also allowed us to take temperature data in the wind tunnel under different conditions, and compare these results to the structures data, in order to better understand the mechanics of this environment.