Spillway Waves

Earlier this summer, the spillway of the Banja Dam was opened for the first time, releasing a stream of excess water from the reservoir. As you can see above, waves quickly formed at the surface of the falling water. You’ve likely noticed this yourself in the run-off along the street after a storm. It turns out that shallow water running down an incline is unstable. A disturbance to the flow – from surface roughness, vibration, or a change in curvature – will grow, just like a ball sitting at the top of a hill will roll down as soon as it’s prodded. For more about this kind of instability, check out this post or my video about boundary layer stability and the Space Shuttle. (Image credit: Guillaume TYTECA, source; via Gizmodo)

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