Existing transition models are surveyed and deficiencies in previous predictions, which seriously overestimate transition length under an adverse pressure gradient, are discussed. A new model for transition in an adverse pressure gradient situation is proposed and experimental results are provided which confirm its validity. A correlation for transition length is advanced which incorporates both Reynolds number and pressure gradient effects.

Under low free-stream turbulence conditions the basic mechanism of transition is laminar instability. There are, however, physical differences between zero and adverse pressure gradients. In the former case transition occurs randomly, due to the breakdown of laminar instability waves in sets. For an adverse pressure gradient the Tollmien-Schlichting waves appear more regularly with a well-defined spectral peak. As the adverse pressure gradient is increased from zero to the separation value the flow evolves continuously from random to periodic behavior and the dimensionless transition length progressively decreases.

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