Anomalous Chained Turbulence in Actively Driven Flows on Spheres

Oscar Mickelin, Jonasz Słomka, Keaton J. Burns, Daniel Lecoanet, Geoffrey M. Vasil, Luiz M. Faria, Jörn Dunkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Recent experiments demonstrate the importance of substrate curvature for actively forced fluid dynamics. Yet, the covariant formulation and analysis of continuum models for nonequilibrium flows on curved surfaces still poses theoretical challenges. Here, we introduce and study a generalized covariant Navier-Stokes model for fluid flows driven by active stresses in nonplanar geometries. The analytical tractability of the theory is demonstrated through exact stationary solutions for the case of a spherical bubble geometry. Direct numerical simulations reveal a curvature-induced transition from a burst phase to an anomalous turbulent phase that differs distinctly from externally forced classical 2D Kolmogorov turbulence. This new type of active turbulence is characterized by the self-assembly of finite-size vortices into linked chains of antiferromagnetic order, which percolate through the entire fluid domain, forming an active dynamic network. The coherent motion of the vortex chain network provides an efficient mechanism for upward energy transfer from smaller to larger scales, presenting an alternative to the conventional energy cascade in classical 2D turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number164503
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 20 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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