The Backward-Facing Step

This photo collage shows vortices shed off a backward-facing step.  The flow is left to right. Here the flow is visualized using dye released in water. Initially, the vortex forms near the bottom of the step in the recirculation zone. Because flow over the top of the vortex is much faster than the flow beneath the vortex, a low pressure zone forms over the vortex and gradually draws it up toward the top of the step. Eventually the vortex will rise to the point where the upstream flow pushes it downstream and the process begins anew. (Photo credit: Andrew Carter, University of Colorado)

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