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The KelvinHelmholtz instability (after Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz) can occur when velocity shear

is present within a continuous fluid, or when there is sufficient velocity difference across the interface between two fluids. One example is wind blowing over a water surface, where the wind causes the relative motion between the stratified layers (i.e., water and air). The instability will manifest itself in the form of waves being generated on the water surface. The waves can appear in numerous fluids and have been spotted in clouds, Saturn's bands, waves in the ocean, and in the sun's corona. The theory can be used to predict the onset of instability and transition to turbulent flow in fluids of different densities moving at various speeds. Helmholtz studied the dynamics of two fluids of different densities when a small disturbance such as a wave is introduced at the boundary connecting the fluids. Stability

A KH instability rendered visible by clouds over Mount Duval in Australia For some short enough wavelengths, if surface tension can be ignored, two fluids in parallel motion with different velocities and densities will yield an interface that is unstable for all speeds. The existence of surface tension stabilises the short wavelength instability however, and theory then predicts stability until a velocity threshold is reached. The theory with surface tension included broadly predicts the onset of wave formation in the important case of wind over water.

A KH instability on the planet Saturn, formed at the interaction of two bands of the planet's atmosphere. In presence of gravity, for a continuously varying distribution of density and velocity, (with the lighter layers uppermost, so the fluid is RT-stable), the dynamics of the KH instability is

described by the TaylorGoldstein equation and its onset is given by a suitably defined Richardson number, Ri. Typically the layer is unstable for Ri<0.25. These effects are quite common in cloud layers. Also the study of this instability becomes applicable in plasma physics, e.g. inertial confinement fusion and the plasmaberyllium interface.

Kelvin-Helmholtz billows 500m deep in the Atlantic Ocean From a numerical point of view, the KH instability is simulated either in a temporal or a spatial way. In the temporal approach, one considers the flow in a periodic (cyclic) box "moving" at the mean speed (absolute instability). In the spatial approach, one tries to simulate a lab experiment with natural inlet and outlet conditions (convective instability). ************************************************* Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability (KHI) (Helmoltz 1868, Kelvin 1871) is a hydrodynamic instability in which immiscible, incompressible, and inviscid fluids are in relative and irrotational motion. In KHI, the velocity and density profiles are uniform in each fluid layer, but they are discontinuous at the (plane) interface between the two fluids. This discontinuity in the (tangential) velocity, i.e., the shear flow, induces vorticity at the interface; as a result, the interface becomes an unstable vortex sheet that rolls up into a spiral. In order to simplify the theoretical and numerical calculations, the effects of gravity, surface tension, and the density difference between the two fluids are not considered in most cases; however, KHI can occur as long as a uniform velocity shear exists when a lighter fluid is superposed on a heavier fluid (Chandrasekhar 1981, Drazin 1970, Nayfeh and Saric 1972, Weissman 1979). When a heavier fluid is superposed on a lighter fluid, the instability is distinguished as Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) (Chandrasekhar 1981, Andrew and David 2009). RTI is an instability caused by gravity, in which the uniform shear flow is not considered. Roll-up in viscous flow As described above, the vortex sheet is a model of infinitesimally thin layer. In realistic systems in which viscosity is included, a vortex sheet becomes a finite thickness vortex layer, and that enables us to regularize the problem past the curvature singularity. Tryggvason et al. (Tryggvason et al. 1991) numerically solved full viscous Navier-Stokes equations (13) and concluded that the viscous solution of a thin vorticity layer with high Reynolds number almost becomes the same one obtained by a vortex sheet model with relatively small regularization parameter . Forbes et al. presented accurate numerical scheme for solving viscous flow without

using the vortex sheet model (Chen and Forbes 2011) and found the roll-up of a thin viscous layer in a weakly compressible system (Forbes 2011). These results suggest that viscosity acts as a regularization effect in the roll-up. TollmienSchlichting wave In fluid dynamics, a TollmienSchlichting wave (often abbreviated T-S wave) is a streamwise instability which arises in a viscous boundary layer. It is one of the more common methods by which a laminar boundary layer transitions to turbulence. The waves are initiated when some disturbance (sound, for example) interacts with leading edge roughness in a process known as receptivity. These waves are slowly amplified as they move downstream until they may eventually grow large enough that nonlinearities take over and the flow transitions to turbulence. These waves, originally discovered by Ludwig Prandtl, were further studied by two of his former students, Walter Tollmien and Hermann Schlichting for whom the phenomenon is named.

copyright ONERA 1996-2006 Transitional flow along a sheet without longitudinal pressure gradient. Tollmien Schlichting waves on the left of the picture.

Physical Mechanism In order for a boundary layer to be absolutely unstable (have an inviscid instability), it must satisfy Rayleigh's criterion; namely D2U = 0 Where D represents the y-derivative and U is the free stream velocity profile. In other words, the velocity profile must have an inflection point to be unstable. It is clear that in a typical boundary layer with a zero pressure gradient, the flow will be unconditionally stable; however, we know from experience this is not the case and the flow does

transition. It is clear, then, that viscosity must be an important factor in the instability. It can be shown using energy methods that

The rightmost term is a viscous dissipation term and is stabilizing. The left term, however, is the Reynolds stress term and is the primary production method for instability growth. In an inviscid flow, the u' and v' terms are orthogonal, so the term is zero, as one would expect. However, with the addition of viscosity, the two components are no longer orthogonal and the term becomes nonzero. In this regard, viscosity is destabilizing and is the reason for the formation of T-S waves. Transition Phenomena Initial Disturbance In a laminar boundary layer, if the initial disturbance spectrum is nearly infinitesimal and random (with no discrete frequency peaks), the initial instability will occur as two-dimensional Tollmien-Schlichting waves, travelling in the mean flow direction if compressibility is not important. However, three-dimensionality soon appears as the Tollmein-Schlichting waves rather quickly begin to show variations. There are known to be many paths from Tollmein-Schlichting waves to turbulence, and many of them are explained by the non-linear theories of flow instability. Final Transition A shear layer develops viscous instability and forms Tollmien-Schlichting waves which grow, while still laminar, into finite amplitude (1 to 2 percent of the freestream velocity) threedimensional fluctuations in velocity and pressure to develop three-dimensional unstable waves and hairpin eddies. From then on, the process is more a breakdown than a growth. The longitudinally stretched vortices begin a cascading breakdown into smaller units, until the relevant frequencies and wave numbers are approaching randomness. Then in this diffusively fluctuating state, intense local changes occur at random times and locations in the shear layer near the wall. At the locally intense fluctuations, turbulent 'spots' are formed that eventually coalesce into fully turbulent flows that burst forth in the form of growing and spreading spots.