Infoscience

Journal article

Dynamical systems and the transition to turbulence in linearly stable shear flows

Plane Couette flow and pressure-driven pipe flow are two examples of flows where turbulence sets in while the laminar profile is still linearly stable. Experiments and numerical studies have shown that the transition has features compatible with the formation of a strange saddle rather than an attractor. In particular, the transition depends sensitively on initial conditions and the turbulent state is not persistent but has an exponential distribution of lifetimes. Embedded within the turbulent dynamics are coherent structures, which transiently show up in the temporal evolution of the turbulent flow. Here we summarize the evidence for this transition scenario in these two flows, with an emphasis on lifetime studies in the case of plane Couette flow and on the coherent structures in pipe flow.

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