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An analytical study of transport, mixing and chaos in an unsteady vortical flow

  • V. Rom-Kedar (a1) (a2), A. Leonard (a3) and S. Wiggins (a4)

We examine the transport properties of a particular two-dimensional, inviscid incompressible flow using dynamical systems techniques. The velocity field is time periodic and consists of the field induced by a vortex pair plus an oscillating strainrate field. In the absence of the strain-rate field the vortex pair moves with a constant velocity and carries with it a constant body of fluid. When the strain-rate field is added the picture changes dramatically; fluid is entrained and detrained from the neighbourhood of the vortices and chaotic particle motion occurs. We investigate the mechanism for this phenomenon and study the transport and mixing of fluid in this flow. Our work consists of both numerical and analytical studies. The analytical studies include the interpretation of the invariant manifolds as the underlying structure which govern the transport. For small values of strain-rate amplitude we use Melnikov's technique to investigate the behaviour of the manifolds as the parameters of the problem change and to prove the existence of a horseshoe map and thus the existence of chaotic particle paths in the flow. Using the Melnikov technique once more we develop an analytical estimate of the flux rate into and out of the vortex neighbourhood. We then develop a technique for determining the residence time distribution for fluid particles near the vortices that is valid for arbitrary strainrate amplitudes. The technique involves an understanding of the geometry of the tangling of the stable and unstable manifolds and results in a dramatic reduction in computational effort required for the determination of the residence time distributions. Additionally, we investigate the total stretch of material elements while they are in the vicinity of the vortex pair, using this quantity as a measure of the effect of the horseshoes on trajectories passing through this region. The numerical work verifies the analytical predictions regarding the structure of the invariant manifolds, the mechanism for entrainment and detrainment and the flux rate.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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