Lagrangian measurement of vorticity dynamics in turbulent flow

Beat Lüthi, Arkady Tsinober, Wolfgang Kinzelbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The full set of velocity derivatives, ∂ui/∂xj, is measured experimentally in a Lagrangian way in quasi-homogeneous isotropic turbulence. This is achieved by applying the three-dimensional particle tracking velocimetry (3D-PTV) technique to an electromagnetically forced flow with Reλ ≈ 50. Checks based on precise kinematic relations show that the technique presented measures the velocity derivatives with good accuracy. In a study on vorticity, characteristic properties of turbulent flows known from direct numerical simulations are reproduced. These are the positive skewness of the intermediate eigenvalue of the rate of strain tensor, sij, 〈Λ2〉 > 0, the predominance of vortex stretching over vortex compression, 〈ωi ωjsij〉 > 0 and the predominant alignment of vorticity, ω, with the intermediate principal axis of strain, λ2. Results on the evolution in time of material lines, l, compared to vortex lines, ω, are presented. They show that the nonlinear interaction of vorticity with the surrounding flow assists viscosity in maintaining this predominant λ2-alignment of vorticity. Lagrangian measurements of enstrophy budget terms suggest that there is no pointwise balancing of production and viscous reduction of enstrophy and that the role played by viscosity is of great importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-118
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 10 Apr 2005


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