Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

Reynolds number

A numerical quantity used as an index to characterize the type of flow in a hydraulic structure in which resistance to motion depends on the viscosity of the liquid in conjunction with the resisting force of inertia. It is the ratio of inertia forces to viscous forces, and is equal to the product of a characteristic velocity of the system (e.g. the mean, surface, or maximum velocity) and a characteristic linear dimension, such as diameter or depth, divided by the kinematic viscosity of the liquid; all expressed in consistent units in order that the combinations will be dimensionless. The number is chiefly applicable to closed systems of flow, such as pipes or conduits where there is a free water surface, or to bodies fully immersed in the fluid so the free surface need not be considered [1]. See also Chezy equation; Froude number; Manning equation.