The stability of three-dimensional time-periodic flows with ellipsoidal stream-surfaces.

Alexander Duncan Davidson Craik, GK Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Most steady flows with constant vorticity and elliptical streamlines are known to be unstable. These, and certain axisymmetric time-periodic hows, can be analysed by Floquet theory. However, Floquet theory is inapplicable to other time-periodic hows that yield disturbance equations containing a quasi-periodic, rather than periodic, function. A practical method for surmounting this difficulty was recently given by Bayly, Holm & Lifschitz. Employing their method, we determine the stability of a class of three-dimensional time-periodic flows: namely, those unbounded hows with fixed ellipsoidal stream surfaces and spatially uniform but time-periodic strain rates. Corresponding, but bounded, hows are those within a fixed ellipsoid with three different principal axes. This is perhaps the first exact stability analysis of non-reducibly three-dimensional and time-dependent flows. Though the model has some artificial features, the results are likely to shed light on more complex systems of practical interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-391
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 1996




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