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Vortex scaling ranges in two-dimensional turbulence

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We survey the role of coherent vortices in two-dimensional turbulence, including formation mechanisms, implications for classical similarity and inertial range theories, and characteristics of the vortex populations. We review early work on the spatial and temporal scaling properties of vortices in freely evolving turbulence and more recent developments, including a spatiotemporal scaling theory for vortices in the forced inverse energy cascade. We emphasize that Kraichnan-Batchelor similarity theories and vortex scaling theories are best viewed as complementary and together provide a more complete description of two-dimensional turbulence. In particular, similarity theory has a continued role in describing the weak filamentary sea between the vortices. Moreover, we locate both classical inertial and vortex scaling ranges within the broader framework of scaling in far-from-equilibrium systems, which generically exhibit multiple fixed point solutions with distinct scaling behaviour. We describe how stationary transport in a range of scales comoving with the dilatation of flow features, as measured by the growth in vortex area, constrains the vortex number density in both freely evolving and forced two-dimensional turbulence. The new theories for coherent vortices reveal previously hidden nontrivial scaling, point to new dynamical understanding, and provide a novel exciting window into two-dimensional turbulence.


Original languageEnglish
Article number111104
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number11
Early online date27 Jul 2017
StatePublished - Nov 2017

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