The onset of turbulence in shear flows – a matter of life and death

The seminar is free to attend but registration is required – please email the organizers to receive an invitation

In pipe, channel and Couette flow turbulence arises despite the linear stability of the laminar state and the transition is caused by finite amplitude perturbations. The resulting patches of turbulence remain spatially localized and die eventually. However, prior to decay they may infect adjacent laminar regions and seed new patches. Depending which of these processes dominates either the entire flow will relaminarise or turbulence survives. This overall situation is reminiscent to absorbing state phase transitions in statistical mechanics. As shown specifically for Couette flow the transition falls into the directed percolation universality class. In order to resolve the relevant time scales of the flow and to determine the respective critical exponents, experiments with excessively large aspect ratios and observation times are required. In addition, I will discuss further complications that arise in pressure-driven flows such as pipes and channels. Finally, if time permits some consequences for turbulence control will be presented.


Since 2013 Professor, IST Austria

2007-2013 Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany 2005 – 2007 Lecturer, University of Manchester, UK

2003- 2005 Research Associate, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

2001 PhD, University of Manchester, UK