Dam-break wave propagation usually occurs over irregular topography, due for example to natural contraction-expansion of the river bed and to the presence of natural or artificial obstacles. Due to limited available dam-break real-case data, laboratory and numerical modeling studies are significant for understanding this type of complex flow problems. To contribute to the related field, a dam-break flow over a channel with a contracting reach was investigated experimentally and numerically. Laboratory tests were carried out in a smooth rectangular channel with a horizontal dry bed for three different lateral contraction geometries. A non-intrusive digital imaging technique was utilized to analyze the dam-break wave propagation. Free surface profiles and time variation of water levels in selected sections were obtained directly from three synchronized CCD video camera records through a virtual wave probe. The experimental results were compared against the numerical solution of VOF (Volume of Fluid)-based Shallow Water Equations (SWEs) and Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations with the k
-ε turbulence model. Good agreements were obtained between computed and measured results. However, the RANS solution shows a better correspondence with the experimental results compared with the SWEs one. The presented new experimental data can be used to validate numerical models for the simulation of dam-break flows over irregular topography.
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