The time-dependent form of the classic, two-dimensional stagnation-point solution of the Navier-Stokes equations is considered. If the viscosity is zero, a class of solutions of the initial-value problem can be found in closed form using Lagrangian coordinates. These solutions exhibit singular behaviour in finite time, because of the infinite domain and unbounded initial vorticity. Thus, the blow-up found by Stuart in three dimensions using the stagnation-point form, also occurs in two. The singularity vanishes under a discrete, finite-dimensional ‘point vortex’ approximation, but is recovered as the number of vortices tends to infinity. We find that a small positive viscosity does not arrest the breakdown, but does strongly alter its form. Similar results are summarized for certain Boussinesq stratified flows.
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