The number of degrees of freedom of three-dimensional Navier--Stokes turbulence

Chuong Van Tran

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8 Citations (Scopus)


In Kolmogorov’s phenomenological theory of turbulence, the energy spectrum in the inertial range scales with the wave number k as k−5/3 and extends up to a dissipation wave number kν, which is given in terms of the energy dissipation rate ϵ and viscosity ν by kν∝(ϵ/ν3)1/4. This result leads to Landau’s heuristic estimate for the number of degrees of freedom that scales as Re9/4, where Re is the Reynolds number. Here we consider the possibility of establishing a quantitative basis for these results from first principles. In particular, we examine the extent to which they can be derived from the three-dimensional Navier–Stokes system, making use of Kolmogorov’s hypothesis of finite and viscosity-independent energy dissipation only. It is found that the Taylor microscale wave number kT (a close cousin of kν) can be expressed in the form kT ≤ CU/ν = (CU/‖u‖)1/2(ϵ/ν3)1/4. Here U and ‖u‖ are a “microscale” velocity and the root mean square velocity, respectively, and C ≤ 1 is a dynamical parameter. This result can be seen to be in line with Kolmogorov’s prediction for kν. Furthermore, it is shown that the minimum number of greatest Lyapunov exponents whose sum becomes negative does not exceed Re9/4, where Re is defined in terms of an average energy dissipation rate, the system length scale, and ν. This result is in a remarkable agreement with the Landau estimate, up to a presumably slight discrepancy between the conventional and the present energy dissipation rates used in the definition of Re.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125103
Number of pages7
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2009


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