David Birch

Dr David Birch

Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering
Ph.D., CEng.
+44 (0)1483 682430
06 AB 02


Areas of specialism

Experimental aerodynamics; Turbulent vortex flows; Instrumentation

University roles and responsibilities

  • Programme Leader, Undergraduate Courses in Aerospace Engineering

My qualifications

BEng in Mechanical Engineering
McGill University
MEng in Mechanical Engineering
McGill University
PhD in Experimental Aerodynamics
McGill University

Affiliations and memberships

Senior Member

Business, industry and community links

Surrey Sensors Ltd.
Director of Research


Media Contacts

Contact the press team



Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out-of-hours: +44 (0)7773 479911
Senate House, University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

My publications


Birch DM, Shaw-Ward S, Titchmarsh A (2014) Calibration and use of n-hole velocity probes., AIAA Journal: devoted to aerospace research and development 53 (2) pp. 336-346
A generalized calibration process is presented for multi-hole, pressure-based velocity probes which is independent of the number of holes and probe geometry, allowing the use of probes with large numbers of holes. The calibration algorithm is demonstrated at low speeds with a conventional seven-hole pressure probe and a novel nineteen-hole pressure probe. Because the calibration algorithm is independent of probe configuration, it is very tolerant of data corruption and imperfections in the probe tip geometry. The advantages of using probes with large numbers of holes is demonstrated in a conventional wing wake survey. The nineteen-hole probe offers a higher angular sensitivity than a conventional seven-hole probe, and can accurately measure velocity components even when an analytical calibration scheme is used. The probe can also provide local estimates of the diagonal components of the cross-flow velocity gradient tensor in highly vortical flows.
Lee T, Birch D, Gerontakos P (2004) Vortex shedding and spacing of a rotationally oscillating cylinder, AIAA JOURNAL 42 (6) pp. 1268-1272 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2011) Similarity of the streamwise velocity component in very-rough-wall channel flow, JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS 668 pp. 174-201 CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
The streamwise velocity component is studied in fully-developed turbulent channel flow for two very rough surfaces and a smooth surface at comparable Reynolds numbers. One rough surface comprises sparse and isotropic grit with a highly non-Gaussian distribution. The other is a uniform mesh consisting of twisted rectangular elements which form a diamond pattern. The mean roughness heights (+/- the standard deviation) are, respectively, about 76 (+/- 42) and 145 (+/- 150) wall units. The flow is shown to be two-dimensional and fully developed up to the fourth-order moment of velocity. The mean velocity profile over the grit surface exhibits self-similarity (in the form of a logarithmic law) within the limited range of 0.04
Jammy SP, Hills N, Birch DM (2014) Boundary conditions and vortex wandering, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 747 pp. 350-368
A direct numerical simulation of a Batchelor vortex has been carried out in the presence of freely-decaying turbulence, using both periodic and symmetric boundary conditions; the latter most closely approximates typical experimental conditions, while the former is often used in computational simulations for the purposes of numerical convenience. The higher-order velocity statistics were shown to be strongly dependent upon the boundary conditions, but the dependence could be mostly eliminated by correcting for the random, Gaussian modulation of the vortex trajectory commonly referred to as 'wandering' using a technique often employed in the analysis of experimental data. Once corrected for this wandering, the strong peaks in the Reynolds stresses normally observed at the vortex centre were replaced by smaller local extrema located within the core region but away from the centre. The distributions of the corrected Reynolds stresses suggested that the formation and organization of secondary structures within the core is the main mechanism in turbulent production during the linear growth phase of vortex development.
Birch D (2009) Vector Dynamics: an Introduction for Engineering Students, Univeristy of Surrey
Birch DM (2012) Self-similarity of trailing vortices, Physics of Fluids 24 (2) 025105 American Institute of Physics
Trailing vortices have been repeatedly shown to exhibit a remarkably robust self-similarity independent of the Reynolds number and upstream boundary conditions. The collapse of the inner-scaled circulation profiles of a trailing vortex has even been previously demonstrated for the cases of highly unsteady and turbulent vortex systems, as well as for vortices which were incompletely developed. A number of factors which contribute to and may artificially promote this self-similarity are discussed. It is shown that the amplitude of vortex ?wandering? (or the random modulations in the vortex trajectory) observed in some experimental measurements are of sufficient amplitude to cause any arbitrary finite and axisymmetric flow structure to collapse with an idealized trailing vortex when scaled on inner parameters. It is further shown that, for the case of an incompletely developed wing-tip vortex, similarity in the outer core region may be an artefact of the rate of roll-up of the vortex sheet. Great care must, therefore, be taken when interpreting experimental measurements of vortex flows.
Birch D, Morrison J (2010) Large roughness effects in channel flow, IUTAM Bookseries 22 pp. 167-173
The streamwise velocity component in fully-developed turbulent channel flow is studied for two very rough surfaces and a smooth surface at comparable Reynolds numbers. One rough surface comprises sparse and isotropic grit with a non-Gaussian distribution. The other is a uniform mesh consisting of twisted rectangular elements which form a diamond pattern. The mean roughness heights (± the standard deviation) are, respectively, about 76 ± 42 and 145 ± 150 wall units. The mean velocity profile over the grit surface exhibits self-similarity (in the form of a logarithmic law) within the limited range of 0:03 d y/h d 0.05, but the profile over the mesh surface exhibits only a small region with a slope tangential to log-law slope scaled on outer variables. However, the mean velocity deficit and higher moments (up to the fourth order) all exhibit some degree of outer scaling over both surfaces. The distinction between self-similarity and outer similarity is clarified and the importance of the former is explained. Spatial correlations show that the dominant large-scale features are very large quasi-streamwise structures with circulation in the cross-flow plane, similar to those found in smooth-wall internal and external flows. However, in the present case, the spanwise length scales are considerably larger. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2007) Applicability of Townsend's similarity hypothesis to very rough-wall channel flow, 52 (12)
Birch D, Lee T (2005) Tip vortex behind a wing oscillated with small amplitude, JOURNAL OF AIRCRAFT 42 (5) pp. 1200-1208 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Morrison JF, Birch DM, Lavoie P (2008) IUTAM Symposium on Flow Control and MEMS, Springer Verlag
Proceedings of the IUTAM Symposium held at the Royal Geographical Society, 19-22 September 2006, hosted by Imperial College, London, England.
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2011) Similarity and Structure in Very-Rough-Wall Channel Flow,
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2012) An innovative low-profile monolithic constant-temperature anemometer, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 100 (1) pp. 38-45 Elsevier
A constant-temperature anemometer has been developed which uses a single high-fidelity speaker driver as a combined signal and power amplifier. Owing to its small size and simplicity of construction, the anemometer is well suited for applications requiring a large number of channels (such as hot-wire rakes) as well as applications requiring the embedding of instrumentation within confined experimental models (such as reduced-scale wind turbine blades). The anemometer is shown to have performance characteristics similar to those of a commercial anemometer when used under its design conditions. An operating bandwidth as high as 10 kHz can be achieved, which is greater than most available time-resolved digital particle-image velocimetry systems and is shown to be sufficient to track large-scale turbulence structures in channel flow.
Birch D, Lee T (2005) Effect of trailing-edge flap on a tip vortex, JOURNAL OF AIRCRAFT 42 (2) pp. 442-447 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Birch DM, Rienties B (2013) Effectiveness of UK and international A-level assessment in predicting performance in engineering, Innovations in Education and Teaching International Taylor and Francis
McParlin S, Ward S, Birch DM (2013) Optimal calibration of directional velocity probes,
A novel approach has been considered for the formal process of calibrating multiple hole pressure probes for use in wind tunnels. Rather than determining the attitude angles of a probe and subsequently flow angularity for a fixed probe, either by linear interpolation between sample points or through the use of piecewise functional fits, the outputs from the probe are mapped as continuous functions across the angular test space, using a set of sample points derived from Optimal Design of Experiments. This offers the potential of more accurate probe calibrations across a wider range of flow onset angles, with fewer sample points than currently used for the same purpose. Proof-of-concept tests using a five-hole probe have indicated that the approach is viable, while examination of fits to legacy data from prior tests indicates that the approach is easily extendable to probes with an arbitrary number of holes, and to multiple hot-wire installations.
Birch D, Lee T, Mokhtarian F, Kafyeke F (2004) Structure and induced drag of a tip vortex, JOURNAL OF AIRCRAFT 41 (5) pp. 1138-1145 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Lee T, Birch D, Gerontakos P (2004) Testing unmanned aerial vehicle airfoils, IEEE INSTRUMENTATION & MEASUREMENT MAGAZINE 7 (3) pp. 32-37 IEEE-INST ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS INC
Birch DM, Martin N (2013) Tracer particle momentum effects in vortex flows, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 723 pp. 665-691 Cambridge Journals
The measurement of vortex flows with particle-image velocimetry (PIV) is particularly susceptible to error arising from the finite mass of the tracer particles, owing to the high velocities and accelerations typically experienced. A classical model of Stokes-flow particle transport is adopted, and an approximate solution for the case of particle transport within an axisymmetric, quasi-two-dimensional Batchelor q-vortex is presented. A generalized expression for the maximum particle tracking error is proposed for each of the velocity components, and the importance of finite particle size distributions is discussed. The results indicate that the tangential velocity component is significantly less sensitive to tracking error than the radial component, and that the conventional particle selection criterion (based on the particle Stokes number) may result in either over- or under-sized particles for a specified allowable error bound. Results were demonstrated by means of PIV measurements carried out in air and water using particles with very different properties.
Birch D, Lee T, Mokhtarian F, Kafyeke F (2003) Rollup and near-field behavior of a tip vortex, JOURNAL OF AIRCRAFT 40 (3) pp. 603-607 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Birch D, Lee T (2005) Investigation of the near-field tip vortex behind an oscillating wing, JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS 544 pp. 201-241 CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
Rampersad P, Nathan P, Birch D A flow meter, 1500257.9
A flow meter (1) comprising a sampling tube (3) through which fluid may flow and a sensor arrangement (9, 25, 27, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47), wherein the sampling tube (3) comprises a first hollow section (51, 53) having a first internal cross-sectional area (A1) and a second hollow section (55, 57) having a second internal cross-sectional area (A2) being less than the first internal cross-sectional area (A1); and the sensor arrangement (9, 25, 27, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47), is for measuring the difference between stagnation and static pressures (P01, P02, P1, P2) within the second hollow section (55, 57).
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2011) Scaling of Turbulence Structures in Very-Rough-Wall Channel Flow, PROGRESS IN WALL TURBULENCE: UNDERSTANDING AND MODELING 14 pp. 405-412 SPRINGER
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2008) Velocity scaling in very-rough-wall channel flows,
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2009) Effects of very-large roughness in turbulent channel flow, ADVANCES IN TURBULENCE XII - PROCEEDINGS OF THE 12TH EUROMECH EUROPEAN TURBULENCE CONFERENCE 132 pp. 661-664 SPRINGER-VERLAG BERLIN
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2010) Velocity statistics of rough-wall channel flow,
Birch DM, Morrison JF (2010) Large Roughness Effects in Channel Flow, IUTAM SYMPOSIUM ON THE PHYSICS OF WALL-BOUNDED TURBULENT FLOWS ON ROUGH WALLS 22 pp. 167-173 SPRINGER
Birch D, Lee T (2005) Tip vortex behind a wing undergoing deep-stall oscillation, AIAA JOURNAL 43 (10) pp. 2081-2092 AMER INST AERONAUT ASTRONAUT
Birch D (2009) Vector Dynamics: An introduction for engineering students.,
Shaw-Ward S, McParlin S, Nathan P, Birch D (2018) Optimal calibration of directional velocity probes, AIAA Journal American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
The calibration of directional velocity probes can require significant facility time and
resources, especially if carried out in situ. The techniques of design of experiments are
therefore applied in order to formally optimize the selection of calibration points. A
model is proposed for a generalized directional velocity probe, and this model is used
to generate an approximate, polynomial response surface model which is shown to
agree well with measurements from both multi-sensor hot-wire probes and multi-hole
pressure probes, in a variety of geometries. The process of D-optimality is then applied
based on this response surface model, and a typical probe is calibrated accordingly.
The probe is then used to scan the wake of a vortex generator, in order to test the
efficacy of the reduced calibrations. D-optimal calibration points are shown to offer
a significant improvement in data fidelity over conventional rectangular grids, and
minimal additional uncertainty is incurred after a 25-fold reduction in the number of
calibration points.
Song J, Fan S, Lin W, Mottet L, Wooward H, Davies Wykes M, Arcucci R, Xiao D, Debay J, ApSimon H, Aristodemou E, Birch D, Carpentieri M, Fan F, Herzog M, Hunt G, Jones R, Pain C, Pavlidis D, Robins A, Short C, Linden P (2018) Natural ventilation in cities: the implications of fluid mechanics, Building Research & Information Taylor & Francis