Whether fluids are composed of air or water, they behave similarly. Fluids move as thin sheets that move, bend, and slide past one another. Such turbulent flow creates spinning pockets of fluid called vortices; air passengers encounter this effect as turbulence. The aerodynamics of fluid motion is another concept central to science and engineering.

The Wave Tank exhibit gives visitors a chance to create vortices and the principles of aerodynamics where they manipulate objects inside the tank by drawing magnetic-backed hand-held objects over the tank’s glass surface.

To read more about how NCAR aviation-focused scientists apply knowledge learned about turbulence to designing aviation safety systems, go to the research page of the Research Aviation Program (RAP) at http://www.rap.ucar.edu/research/turbulence/index.html.

To see NCAR’s Scientific Computer Division (SCD) computer animation models of wind, solar, and ocean turbulence, check out the SCD Visualization Research Gallery of images at http://www.scd.ucar.edu/vg.