Area waves on a slender vortex revisited

Stephen Childress, Andrew D. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper considers the classic problem of the dynamics of axisymmetric waves on a rectilinear vortex, in the absence of viscosity. The waves alter the axial pressure distribution and thus generate axial flows which depend on the radial distribution of vorticity. To simplify this problem, models have been introduced which average over the cross-section and eliminate the radial dependence. One approach, pioneered by Lundgren and Ashurst (1989 J. Fluid Mech. 200 283-307), averages the momentum equation. Another averaging method, due to Leonard (1994 Phys. Fluids 6 765-77), focuses on the vorticity equation. The present paper takes a fresh look at the derivation of these two distinct models, which we refer to as the momentum wave model and vorticity wave model respectively, using the tools of differential geometry to develop a hybrid Eulerian-Lagrangian approach. We compare these models with area waves in the asymptotic limit of a slender vortex, with radial structure retained. Numerical calculations are presented to show the differences between waves in the full slender vortex system and those in the momentum and vorticity wave models. We also discuss modification of the vorticity wave model to allow an external irrotational flow, and simulations are presented where a vortex is subjected to uniform axial stretching. Our approach can also be developed to model more complicated configurations, such as occur during vortex collisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035508
JournalFluid Dynamics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bifurcating channel
  • droplet
  • merging dynamics
  • wettability


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