Phenomena

Flow Around Traffic

Flow visualization in a water tunnel shows what the flow around a line of traffic looks like. Note the progressively more turbulent flow around each car as it sits in the wake of the car before it. Turbulent flow is usually associated with increased drag forces, but because turbulence can actually help prevent flow separation it is sometimes desirable as a method for decreasing drag. In the case of these cars drafting on one another, it is clear that the cars further back in the line cause less effect on the fluid–and thus have less drag to overcome–than the front car.  (Photo credit: Rob Bulmahn)

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