A flow tracer is any fluid property used to track flow. The concentration of a chemical compound in the fluid can be used as a
chemicaltracer, and characteristics such as temperatureare physical tracers. Tracers may be artificially introduced, like dye tracers, or they may be naturally occurring. Conservative tracers remain constant following fluid parcels, whereas reactivetracers (such as compounds undergoing a mutual chemical reaction) grow or decay with time. Activetracers dynamically alter the flow of the fluid by changing fluid properties which appear in the equation of motionsuch as densityor viscosity, while passivetracers have no influence on flow.
Tracers are used in
oceanographyto deduce flow patterns in the ocean. Common examples include potential temperature, salinity, and concentration of CFCs, tritium(introduced to the ocean surface by atomic bombtests), oxygen, and many other compounds.
*cite journal | journal= Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics | volume= 23 | pages= 43–64 | year= 1991 | doi= 10.1146/annurev.fl.23.010191.000355 | title=Lagrangian Ocean Studies | author= R. E. Davis | url= http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.fl.23.010191.000355
* [http://beachcombersalert.org/RubberDuckies.html Plastic ducks and other bath toys] , washed from a
container shipinto the Pacific Oceanin 1992, are used as a flow tracer for the calibrationand verificationof ocean currentmodels.
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