Nonlinear analysis for the evolution of vortex sheets*

Russel E. Caflisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The perturbations in a nearly flat vortex sheet will initially grow due to Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. Asymptotic analysis and numerical computations of the subsequent nonlinear evolution show several interesting features. At some finite time the vortex sheet develops a singularity in its shape; i.e. the curvature becomes infinite at a point. This is immediately followed by roll-up of the sheet into an infinite spiral. This paper presents two mathematical results on nonlinear vortex sheet evolution and singularity formation: First, for sufficiently small analytic perturbations of the flat sheet, existence of smooth solutions of the Birkhoff-Rott equation is proved almost up to the expected time of singularity formation. Second, we present a construction of exact solutions that develop singularities (infinite curvature) in finite time starting from analytic initial data. These results are derived within the framework of analytic function theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-77
Number of pages3
JournalFluid Dynamics Research
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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