On spurious vortical structures

Dimitris Drikakis, Piotr K. Smolarkiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper investigates the formation of spurious vortical structures in incompressible flow simulations employing Godunov-type methods. The present work is motivated by the earlier studies of Brown and Minion (1995, J. Comput. Phys. 122, 165 and 1997, J. Comput. Phys. 138, 734) who demonstrated for a variety of numerical schemes (and for the upwind-biased methods in particular) that spurious vortices can occur in underresolved flow simulations. The aim of our work is threefold: (i) to identify deficiencies in various Godunov-type methods leading to spurious flow structures, (ii) to examine the numerical mechanisms responsible for these artifacts, and (iii) to propose modifications of Godunov-type methods in order to recover the correct solutions even under insufficient grid resolution. Our results reveal that the occurrence of spurious solutions depends strongly on the Godunov-type method employed. We show that in addition to the dissipation properties of a scheme-emphasized by Brown and Minion-there are other factors that can also contribute to numerical artifacts. These include a vortical instability arising from the numerical discretization of the advective terms in the primitive variable formulation of the Navier-Stokes equations, the balance of dissipation among the different discretized terms in a Godunov-type method, as well as order of accuracy of the interpolation used to discretize the wave-speed dependent term of the Godunov flux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-325
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001


  • Finite volume
  • Godunov-type methods
  • Unsteady incompressible flows


Dive into the research topics of 'On spurious vortical structures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this