Identifying Turbulent Structures through Topological Segmentation

Ray Grout, Peer-Timo Bremer, Andrea Gruber, Janine Bennett, Attila Gyulassy, Hemanth Kolla, Jacqueline Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus Citations


A new method of extracting vortical structures from a turbulent flow is proposed whereby topological segmentation of an indicator function scalar field is used to identify the regions of influence of the individual vortices. This addresses a long-standing challenge in vector field topological analysis: indicator functions commonly used produce a scalar field based on the local velocity vector field; reconstructing regions of influence for a particular structure requires selecting a threshold to define vortex extent. In practice, the same threshold is rarely meaningful throughout a given flow. By also considering the topology of the indicator field function, the characteristics of vortex strength and extent can be separated and the ambiguity in the choice of the threshold reduced. The proposed approach is able to identify several types of vortices observed in a jet in cross-flow configuration simultaneously where no single threshold value for a selection of common indicator functions appears able to identify all of these vortex types.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalCommunications in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-65419


  • Segmentation
  • Topology
  • Turbulence
  • Vortex identification


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