The fate of random initial vorticity distributions for two-dimensional Euler equations on a sphere

Paul K. Newton
2015 Journal of Fluid Mechanics  
The paper by Dritschelet al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 783, 2015, pp. 1–22) describes the long-time behaviour of inviscid two-dimensional fluid dynamics on the surface of a sphere. At issue is whether the flow settles down to an equilibrium or whether, for generic (random) initial conditions, the long-time solution is periodic, quasi-periodic or chaotic. While it might be surprising that this issue is not settled in the literature, it is important to keep in mind that the Euler equations form a
more » ... ipationless Hamiltonian system, hence the set of equations only redistributes the initial vorticity, generating smaller and smaller scales, while keeping kinetic energy, angular impulse and an infinite family of vorticity moments (Casimirs) intact. While special solutions that never settle down to an equilibrium state can be constructed using point vortices, vortex patches and other distributions, the fate of random initial conditions is a trickier problem. Previous statistical theories indicate that the long-time state should be a stationary large-scale distribution of vorticity. By carrying out careful numerical simulations using two different methods, the authors make a compelling case that the generic long-time state resembles a large-scale oscillating quadrupolar vorticity field, surrounded by persistent small-scale vortices. While numerical simulations can never conclusively settle this issue, the results might help guide future theories that seek to prove the existence of such an interesting dynamical long-time state.
doi:10.1017/jfm.2015.607 fatcat:7aomlhojm5fyhaz7f2ohk5znii