Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering


Saylor, John R

Committee Member

Figliola , Richard S

Committee Member

Miller , Richard S

Committee Member

Qiao , Rui


Heat transfer across an air/water interface is of particular importance to limnology, oceanography and some industrial applications. The relationship between the statistics of the air/water interfacial temperature field and the interfacial heat flux is poorly understood, particularly for the mixed convection condition, which is a common heat transfer mechanism for small inland lakes. The few studies that have been conducted under mixed convection conditions have been limited to an uncontrolled surfactant condition (tap water). Therefore, in this dissertation research two sets of experiments for wind speeds from 0 to 4 m/s were conducted: controlled surfactant contaminated conditions (with oleyl alcohol) and clean water surface conditions. The air/water interfacial heat flux and the surface temperature field statistics (root mean square (RMS) and skewness) were computed to study the relationship between them, and the results under different surface conditions were presented and compared. It was found that, for a given wind speed and surface condition, the RMS of the interfacial temperature field increased linearly with heat flux, and the RMS of clean surfaces was greater than that of a surfactant-covered surface. The surface skewness for clean surfaces was found to be more negatively skewed than that under surfactant-covered surfaces. There was almost no wind speed effect on the surfactant-covered surface skewness. However, the clean surface skewness became less skewed when the wind speed increased. The RMS was scaled by water bulk/surface temperature difference, which is the maximum possible value of RMS. The scaled RMS decreased by a factor of two in the presence of a surfactant monolayer. A parameterization study was also carried out to find the relationship between the scaled RMS and the Rayleigh number, the Reynolds number and the Prandtl number. The effect of the surfactant monolayer on the relationship between the scaled RMS and the Rayleigh number, Reynolds number and Prandtl number was parameterized by introducing a new dimensionless group. The probability density functions (PDFs) of the surface temperature fields were also determined. The wind speed, heat flux, and surface condition were all found to affect the temperature PDFs. Finally, the presence of longitudinal vortices, which are an air-side phenomenon, oriented in the wind direction, were observed under certain wind speeds and air/water temperature differences. Experiments were conducted to investigate their onset instability mechanism. The streak spacing and the onset position varied with the Reynolds number and the Grashof number. This research provides an improved understanding of turbulence using an experimental model that is more relevant to lakes than is the case for Rayleigh-Benard convection, which is often used as a model of lakes and oceans. This research also finds application in small lake thermal modeling, atmospheric modeling, volcanic lake modeling, treaty verification, the prediction of ice formation, gas/mass transfer studies, and metal surface solidification.