The stability of a two-dimensional vorticity filament under uniform strain
Dritschel, D. G., Haynes, P. H., Juckes, M. N. and Shepherd, T. G. (1991) The stability of a two-dimensional vorticity filament under uniform strain. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 230 (1). pp. 647-665. ISSN 0022-1120
To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0022112091000915
The quantitative effects of uniform strain and background rotation on the stability of a strip of constant vorticity (a simple shear layer) are examined. The thickness of the strip decreases in time under the strain, so it is necessary to formulate the linear stability analysis for a time-dependent basic flow. The results show that even a strain rate γ (scaled with the vorticity of the strip) as small as 0.25 suppresses the conventional Rayleigh shear instability mechanism, in the sense that the r.m.s. wave steepness cannot amplify by more than a certain factor, and must eventually decay. For γ < 0.25 the amplification factor increases as γ decreases; however, it is only 3 when γ e 0.065. Numerical simulations confirm the predictions of linear theory at small steepness and predict a threshold value necessary for the formation of coherent vortices. The results help to explain the impression from numerous simulations of two-dimensional turbulence reported in the literature that filaments of vorticity infrequently roll up into vortices. The stabilization effect may be expected to extend to two- and three-dimensional quasi-geostrophic flows.