On the nature of vortex interactions and models in unforced nearly-inviscid two-dimensional turbulence

David G. Dritschel*, Norman J. Zabusky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


A powerful feature-tracking tool is applied to several high-resolution, very long-duration, regularized contour dynamics (contour surgery) simulations of unforced nearly-inviscid two-dimensional turbulence (2DT) on the surface of a sphere. Particularly low density gases of vortices (i.e. on average, very widely separated vortices) are examined to ascertain the nature of their interactions. The simplest (minimal) model system is studied, namely a set of vortex patches of just two vorticity values. ±ω0, whose total circulation is zero. The areas of the patches are selected initially from a pre-assigned. stable (nearly time invariant) power-law distribution. When the vonicity occupation fraction f>0.01. often more than three vortices are found relatively close together at the onset of a strong interaction. But. when f≲0.01, all such interactions involve only three nearby vortex patches, not all having the same sign of vorticity. This is related to the well-known collapse of three singular (point) vortices. Thus, under these conditions, isolated two-vortex interactions, which have figured in recent ad hoc theories and models for decaying 2DT, cannot occur. Taking into account these results, we propose an asymptotically-motivated and computationally-efficient "reduced" model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1256
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996


Dive into the research topics of 'On the nature of vortex interactions and models in unforced nearly-inviscid two-dimensional turbulence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this