The Morison equation is the sum of two force components: an inertia force in phase with the local flow acceleration and a drag force proportional to the (signed) square of the instantaneous flow velocity. The inertia force is of the functional form as found in potential flow theory, while the drag force has the form as found for a body placed in a steady flow. In the heuristic approach of Morison, O'Brien, Johnson and Schaaf these two force components, inertia and drag, are simply added to describe the force in an oscillatory flow.
The Morison equation contains two empirical hydrodynamic coefficients—an inertia coefficient and a drag coefficient—which are determined from experimental data. As shown by dimensional analysis and in experiments by Sarpkaya, these coefficients depend in general on the Keulegan–Carpenter number, Reynolds number and surface roughness.
The descriptions given below of the Morison equation are for uni-directional onflow conditions as well as body motion.
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