Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Bifurcations of two-dimensional channel flows

Ian J.  Sobey a1p1 and Philip G.  Drazin a1
a1 School of Mathematics, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TW, UK

Article author query
sobey ij   [Google Scholar] 
drazin pg   [Google Scholar] 


In this paper we study some instabilities and bifurcations of two-dimensional channel flows. We use analytical, numerical and experimental methods. We start by recapitulating some basic results in linear and nonlinear stability and drawing a connection with bifurcation theory. We then examine Jeffery–Hamel flows and discover new results about the stability of such flows. Next we consider two-dimensional indented channels and their symmetric and asymmetric flows. We demonstrate that the unique symmetric flow which exists at small Reynolds number is not stable at larger Reynolds number, there being a pitchfork bifurcation so that two stable asymmetric steady flows occur. At larger Reynolds number we find as many as eight asymmetric stable steady solutions, and infer the existence of another seven unstable solutions. When the Reynolds number is sufficiently large we find time-periodic solutions and deduce the existence of a Hopf bifurcation. These results show a rich and unexpected structure to solutions of the Navier–Stokes equations at Reynolds numbers of less than a few hundred.

(Published Online April 21 2006)
(Received July 24 1985)
(Revised April 16 1986)

p1 Present address: Schlumberger Cambridge Research, P.O. Box 153, Cambridge CB3 0HG, UK.