The curvature of material surfaces in isotropic turbulence Academic Article uri icon


  • Direct numerical simulation is used to study the curvature of material surfaces in isotropic turbulence. The Navier-Stokes equation is solved by a 643 pseudospectral code for constant-density homogeneous isotropic turbulence, which is made statistically stationary by low-wavenumber forcing. The Taylor-scale Reynolds number is 39. An ensemble of 8192 infinitesimal material surface elements is tracked through the turbulence. For each element, a set of exact ordinary differential equations is integrated in time to determine, primarily, the two principal curvatures k1 and k 2. Statistics are then deduced of the mean-square curvature M = 1/2(k12 + k 22), and of the mean radius of curvature R = (k12 + k22) -1/2. Curvature statistics attain an essentially stationary state after about 15 Kolmogorov time scales. Then the area-weighted expectation of R is found to be 12η, where η is the Kolmogorov length scale. For moderate and small radii (less than 10η) the probability density function (pdf) of R is approximately uniform, there being about 5% probability of R being less than η. The uniformity of the pdf of R, for small R, implies that the expectation of M is infinite. It is found that the surface elements with large curvatures are nearly cylindrical in shape (i.e., |k1| ≫ |k 2| or |k2| ≫ |k1|), consistent with the folding of the surface along nearly straight lines. Nevertheless the variance of the Gauss curvature K = k1k2 is infinite. © 1989 American Institute of Physics.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pope, S. B., Yeung, P. K., & Girimaji, S. S.

citation count

  • 62

publication date

  • December 1989