MAGIC course, spring 2010
Topological ﬂuid mechanics
Andrew D. Gilbert and Mitchell Berger
Mathematics Research Institute, School of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, U.K.
1 Why topological ﬂuid mechanics?
To the authors’ knowledge, the term was ﬁrst coined for an IUTAM conference in Cambridge, U.K. in 1989, by Keith Moﬀatt and Arkady Tsinober [13]. The aim of the conference was to bring together scientists interested in ﬂuid mechanics and the sister subject of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) who were wrestling with problems of understanding the complexity of ﬂuid ﬂows and magnetic ﬁelds.
Overall the aim is to approach such problems from a general viewpoint that complements the more classical approaches. So for example a classical question would be to understand the instability of plane parallel ﬂows, introducing problems involving eigenmodes and eigenfunctions for speciﬁc proﬁles, and some general results such as Rayleigh’s inﬂection point theorem.
On the other hand the type of question that topological ﬂuid mechanics would aim to address is: what is the general structure of a steady inviscid ﬂuid ﬂow? Can stability be proven for whole classes of two or threedimensional ﬂows in arbitrary shaped regions? Can we ‘construct’ ﬂows with general streamline topology? If a magnetic ﬁeld is tangled and knotted, how much energy may be realised if it is allowed to reconnect?
Such questions have relevance in understanding a whole range of phenomena, from the structure of turbulent ﬂow, to superﬂuid ﬂow (in which vortices form a tangle of lines), to the magnetic ﬁelds of the solar corona and generation of ﬁeld deep in the Earth or Sun. In each case a range of methods of looking at general ﬁelds and their structure have proved useful and the aim of this course is to set out some of the theory and applications.
In a sense the term topological ﬂuid mechanics is something of an umbrella
Preprint submitted to Elsevier
8 February 2010
term, and some of the methods and ideas could perhaps be better described as geometrical. Nonetheless it is a useful title to bring together a whole range of topics that take a general view of whole classes of ﬂuid ﬂows and magnetic ﬁelds and their properties. This includes many works with a distinctly pure mathematical ﬂavour, and some areas of study rapidly move into studying general inviscid ﬂows on manifolds of arbitrary dimension, or to quantifying how big groups of diﬀeomorphisms are. However our approach will be from the angle of applied mathematics, with a close eye on applications and not being concerned about technicalities.
We have beneﬁtted from a range of sources of information, and in particular have made use of material in the unpublished lecture notes of Steve Childress [3] for the beginning of the course, with his permission.
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Topics
The course will be given by Andrew Gilbert and Mitchell Berger and cover the following topics:
Part I (AG): basics, helicity and relaxation
• Background and motivation, hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics. Revision of Kelvin’s theorem and magnetic analogies.
• Fluid, magnetic and cross helicity, geometrical interpretation.
• Magnetic relaxation.
Part II (MB): knots, tangles, braids and applications
• Link, twist and writhe of ﬂux and vortex tubes.
• Braiding of ﬂux and vortex tubes.
• Vortex tangles in quantum ﬂuids and vortex tubes in turbulence, crossing numbers.
• Chaotic mixing, stirrer protocols, pA maps and topological entropy.
Part III (AG): dynamics of point and line vortices
• Point vortex dynamics, invariants, integrability.
• Vortex tube dynamics, local induction approximation, invariants, solitons.
• If time: introduction to Lagrangian ﬂuid mechanics.
These Latex notes cover the part I, which is the ﬁrst three lectures, and there are exercises and bibliography at the end. The notes are pretty informal and I have not cross referenced equations, preferring to repeat them where necessary. This is because these notes are a basis for the lectures I will give: the lectures will also have an informal style but be more bullet point orientated and include pictures and sketches. Finally there may be (will be!) errors and slips in the notes and lectures: please do not hesitate to bring these to my attention.
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A few general notes
• 
The summation convention is in force in these notes unless otherwise stated. We sum over repeated (dummy) indices in each product. Single (free) indices are not summed and label diﬀerent equations. 
• 
We will refer to position with vector r or x and use either (x, y, z ) or (x _{1} , x _{2} , x _{3} ) interchangeably. Note that r = r. 
• 
We may use components of a vector u as (u _{1} , u _{2} , u _{3} ), especially in general theory, but also (u, v, w), particularly in examples. 
• 
We use the convenient abbreviation ∂ _{t} for ∂/∂t and ∂ _{i} for ∂/∂x _{i} . 
• 
For a vector b we often write b ^{2} for b · b = b ^{2} . 
• 
We will often write something like u ·∇A. This can be thought of as (u ·∇)A where u · ∇ = u _{i} ∂ _{i} is an operator acting on the vector ﬁeld A. Or, we can think of ∇A as a matrix whose ijth component is ∂ _{i} A _{j} . In this case we are simply dotting u into the ﬁrst index by taking u _{i} ∂ _{i} A _{j} . In the latter case we consider ∇A as deﬁning a matrix and we deﬁne ∇A ^{2} = (∂ _{i} A _{j} )(∂ _{i} A _{j} ), that is the sum of the squares of the entries of the matrix. 
• 
We assume a good knowledge of vector calculus identities: many are given below. 
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Vector calculus identities 
Here is an incomplete list of useful identities:
∇(φψ) = φ∇ψ + ψ∇φ
∇ · (φu) ∇ × (φu) ∇(u · v) u × (∇ × u) ∇ · (u × v) ∇ × (u × v) ∇ × (∇ × u) ∇ × ∇φ 
= = = = ∇ ^{1} _{2} u ^{2} − u · ∇u v · ∇ × u − u · ∇ × v u∇ · v − v∇ · u + v · ∇u − u · ∇v ∇(∇ · u) − ∇ ^{2} u = 0 = = = ∇φ · u + φ∇ · u ∇φ × u + φ∇ × u u · ∇v + v · ∇u + u × (∇ × v) + v × (∇ × u) 
∇ · ∇ × u = 0
We also make much use of Gauss’ theorem (the divergence theorem)
_{V} ∇ · u dV = _{S} n · u dS
where V is a volume enclosed by a surface S with outward normal n. Or we
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have it in a more general form
_{V} ∂ _{i} φ dV = _{S} n _{i} φ dS
where ∂ _{i} φ = ∂φ/∂x _{i} and n _{i} is the ith component of the normal vector n. Here φ can be any quantity, so could have a set of indices itself.
We also occasionally use Stokes’ theorem
_{S} n · ∇ × u dS = _{C} u · dr
where S is a surface with boundary C and the direction of the normal n to
S is related to the direction of integration around C by the usual righthand
rule.
5 Governing equations for ﬂuid ﬂow
We consider ﬂuid ﬂow u(r , t) with constant density, governed by the Navier– Stokes equation in the form
∂ _{t} u + u · ∇u = −∇p + ν∇ ^{2} u
∇ · u = 0
The latter condition, of a solenoidal or divergenceless vector ﬁeld, is used a great deal below. The viscosity ν will always be a constant. We will often make use of the material derivative
D _{t} =
D
_{D}_{t} = ∂ _{t} + u · ∇
for which the equation becomes
D _{t} u = −∇p + ν∇ ^{2} u
The ﬂows may be in inﬁnite space, or in a bounded domain D with boundary
S in which case we apply a noslip condition
u = 0
(r ∈ S)
We will usually focus on inviscid or ideal ﬂuid ﬂow, governed by the Euler equation, with zero viscosity (this is a highly singular limit!), namely,
∂ _{t} u + u · ∇u = −∇p
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This can also be written in the attractive form
∂ _{t} u = u × ω − ∇P
where the Bernoulli function is
P = p +
1 2 ^{u} 2
and the vorticity is given by
ω = ∇ × u which is another solenoidal vector ﬁeld
∇ · ω = 0
Note that by taking the divergence, the pressure is given by
∇ ^{2} P = ∇ · (u × ω)
Actually we have lapsed here: P is the Bernoulli function, but we often slip into calling the pressure. Whatever it is called, obtaining P is thus a non local procedure: the ﬂow and vorticity at all points in the domain aﬀect all other points. In a numerical code, this Poisson equation has to be solved each timestep.
Taking the curl eliminates the pressure and gives the vorticity equation
∂ _{t} ω = ∇ × (u × ω)
or
D _{t} ω = ∂ _{t} ω + u · ∇ω = ω · ∇u This latter equation shows the ω is transported with the ﬂuid ﬂow (lefthand side) but also undergoes stretching and rotation (righthand side). Technically it is Liedragged in the ﬂow and for this reason vorticity (rather than velocity) plays a central role in discussion of topological ﬂuid mechanics. In other words given a ﬂow u, the above equation carries vectors ω as though they each join two inﬁnitesimally close ﬂuid particles. Here the Lie bracket of two vector ﬁelds is deﬁned as
[u, v] = u · ∇v − v · ∇u It is antisymmetric [u, v] = −[u, v] and satisﬁes the Jacobi identity
[[u, v], w] + [[v, w], u] + [[w, u], v] = 0
For more information, see books on diﬀerential geometry, for example that of Schutz [16].
In the ideal case we also have boundary conditions: in a ﬁnite domain D we impose a no normal ﬂow condition
n · u = 0
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(r ∈ S)
where n is a normal vector to S pointing outwards from D. As setting ν = 0 reduces the order of the equation, we are forced to reduce the number of boundary conditions and can no longer require that the ﬂow be noslip at the boundary. Note that we will use D for the domain, the entire volume, in which we are working, and V if we are using a subvolume of this. We will use S for the surface of either D or V: which will be clear from the context.
Sometimes it is convenient to work in unbounded space D = R ^{3} , for which we typically assume that the vorticity ﬁeld ω is localised, so falling oﬀ with r faster than any negative power of r so that for any n,
ω(r, t) = o(r ^{−}^{n} )
(r → ∞)
For working in inﬁnite space we start with a ﬁnite sphere S _{R} of radius R enclosing a volume V _{R} . We then derive an exact result valid in V _{R} and then allow R to tend to inﬁnity. A condition such as that the vorticity ﬁeld be localised will typically mean that the surface integral over S _{R} vanishes as R → ∞, leaving us with a result valid over all space D = R ^{3} .
Sometimes it is instead convenient to work in periodic space, for example we set D to be the periodic cube T ^{3} deﬁned as [0, 2π] ^{3} with periodic boundary conditions so that surface integrals sum to zero on opposite faces by periodicity (as the normal vector n changes sign, all other quantites remaining the same). One may have to take care deﬁning potentials in this geometry, for example magnetic vector potential A below.
Note that in a ﬁnite domain D with the boundary condition u · n = 0, the divergencefree ﬁeld u is orthogonal to any gradient in the sense that
_{D} u · ∇φ dV = _{D} ∇ · (φu) dV = _{S} φu · n dS = 0
using Gauss’ theorem (the divergence theorem).
6 Cauchy solution
A particle or ﬂuid element will be carried by a ﬂuid ﬂow. It will start at say
a at time t = 0 and at each moment it will have position x(t) and velocity u(x, t). Its position x(t) is then given at later times by the diﬀerential equation
dx
dt
= u(x(t), t)
and initial condition
x(0) = a
It is convenient often to use a label a to label the initial condition, so we
essentially follow the whole family of trajectories x(a, t) from all the initial
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positions a and write
and initial condition
∂x
∂t
^{} a
= u(x(a, t), t)
x(a, 0) = a
Thinking about ﬂuid dynamics in terms of these Lagrangian coordinates a gives the Lagrangian picture of the ﬂow, which has some advantages, though many disadvantages (in that the pressure transforms in a complicated way in Lagrangian coordinates). Within the Lagrangian picture one can solve for the
vorticity ﬁeld if the velocity ﬁeld is known. Of course the two are linked in
a complex way for ideal ﬂuid ﬂow! But life is a bit easier in the kinematic dynamo problem: see later.
What about an inﬁnitesimal vector that joins x and x + δ x? We get the equation for this by linearising the above ODE to yield
∂δx
∂t
^{} a
= δx · ∇u(x(a, t), t)
We have Taylor expanded in δ x and dropped quadratic and higher order terms. This essentially deﬁnes an inﬁnitesimal vector: it is always so short that we
can neglect these higher order terms (one can imagine rescaling it). This is the vector used for example for measuring Liapunov exponents (and technically
it is in the tangent bundle of the domain in question).
This is essentially the same equation as that for vorticity in the form
D _{t} ω = ω · ∇u
conﬁrming that vorticity vectors are carried like inﬁnitesimal vectors in the ﬂow.
We can also obtain a similar equation for the Jacobian : given x(a, t) we may set
J _{i}_{j} = ^{∂}^{x} ^{i}
J (a, t) = ∂x/∂a
∂a _{j} Diﬀerentiating the equation for particle motion with respect to a gives
or
∂J
∂t
^{} a
= (∇u) ^{T} J
or
^{∂}^{J} ^{i}^{j}
∂t
^{} a
=
∂ _{k} u _{i} (x(a, t), t) J _{k}_{j} ,
J (a, 0) = I
(with I as the identity matrix). Here ∇u is the matrix of derivatives of u, with
(∇u) _{i}_{j} = ∂ _{i} u _{j}
and T gives its matrix transpose.
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This gives us solutions to transport of vectors and scalars in the ﬂow. First consider a scalar ﬁeld φ that is carried in the ﬂow passively according to
D _{t} φ
= ∂ _{t} φ + u · ∇φ = 0
with initial conditon φ(a, 0) = φ _{0} (a). The solution is given by
φ(x(a, t), t) = φ _{0} (a)
as can be checked by diﬀerentiating with respect to time at constant a.
Similarly suppose the initial vorticity is given by ω(a, 0) = ω _{0} (a) and the vorticity ω(x, t) obeys
D _{t} ω = ∂ _{t} ω + u · ∇ω = ω · ∇u
Then the solution to this, the Cauchy solution, is given by
ω(x(a, t), t) = J(a, t)ω _{0} (a)
or
ω _{i} (x(a, t), t) = J _{i}_{j} (a, t)ω _{0}_{j} (a)
or, taking x = x(a, t) as read, we have
ω(x, t) = J(a, t)ω _{0} (a)
or
ω _{i} (x, t) = J _{i}_{j} (a, t)ω _{0}_{j} (a)
This natural link between the motion of particles, inﬁnitesimal vectors and Jacobians, and the equations governing vorticity and (later) magnetic ﬁelds is at the heart of the notion of Liedragging. It is also natural to think of vortex lines, that is integral curves of the vorticity ﬁeld given by
dx
_{1}
ω
1
_{=} dx _{2}
ω
2
_{=} dx _{2}
ω
3
at a ﬁxed time t, being carried materially by the ﬂuid ﬂow. If we mark vectors on these lines, joining material points, then as the points move apart or rotate the vectors stretch or rotate accordingly.
Given that we can ‘solve’ the vorticity equation by means of the Cauchy solution it may seem attractive now to use this to solve the Euler equation. The problem though is that it is very hard to invert the vorticity solution to give the ﬂow ﬁeld (this being a nonlocal procedure) and it is only in very special cases that these Lagrangian methods can be used to solve ﬂuid problems.
Note that for similar reasons there is no obvious means to transport ﬂow vectors u in the ﬂuid. Whereas the equations for vorticity permit a local cal culation of the evolution of vectors, those for u involve the nonlocal pressure term, which requires a global calculation.
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Transport of gradients or oneforms
There is another natural means of transporting ‘vectors’ in a ﬂow. Suppose we diﬀerentiate the equation
D _{t} φ = ∂ _{t} φ + u · ∇φ = 0
for a passive scalar to obtain the equation for its gradient, say g = ∇φ. This satisﬁes
D _{t} g = ∂ _{t} g + u · ∇g = −(∇u) · g Here ∇u is the matrix of derivatives of u, with
(∇u) _{i}_{j} = ∂ _{i} u _{j}
Thus gradients are transported diﬀerently from vorticity or magnetic ﬁeld vectors. This is natural when you think how they are deﬁned: they point in the direction of greatest increase of φ at a point: if there is stretching in that direction then the gradient is reduced! Technically we ought to distinguish vectors that are stretched like vorticity, obeying the Lie dragging equation
D _{t} b = ∂ _{t} b + u · ∇b = b · ∇u
and oneforms or covectors which obey a diﬀerent Liedragging equation
D _{t} g = ∂ _{t} g + u · ∇g = −(∇u) · g
Books on diﬀerential geometry (also modern books on relativity) make this important distinction. We do not want to get too sidelined by the manifolds and diﬀerential geometry, but it is useful to know that there are these two natural kinds of ‘vectors’, with diﬀerent stretching properties in the ﬂow. When the properties are important we will refer to oneforms as distinct from vectors, but we may be a little lax sometimes.
Furthermore if we take a scalar product we can check that
D _{t} (b · g) = b · (∇u) · g − b · (∇u) · g = 0
so the scalar product of a vector ﬁeld and oneform ﬁeld is a scalar ﬁeld with
D _{t} (b · g) = 0
If we consider 3 inﬁnitesimal vectors transported in a ﬂuid ﬂow, b, c and d, then these demarcate an inﬁnitesimal area element, whose volume is preserved as ∇ · u = 0. Thus we have
D _{t} (b × c · d) = 0
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Now, this is true for all choices of vector ﬁelds b, c and d and so it can be shown that b×c gives a oneform which may be thought of as an area element, say dS = n dS . We obtain the result that area elements are transported like gradients, according to
D _{t} dS = −(∇u) · dS
Again, thinking of how an area element is transported under stretching or shearing gives some intuition of what is going on, and why the transport equation is diﬀerent from that for vectors. Wavevectors are also transported in the same way, in other words as oneforms. We can also write for inﬁnitesimal vectors again and for inﬁnitesimal volumes,
D _{t} dr = dr · ∇u
D _{t} dV = 0
Finally we have the Cauchy solution for vector ﬁelds, and something tells us that there should be something analogous for oneform ﬁelds. Suppose g is a oneform ﬁeld and b is an arbitrary vector ﬁeld, then from the Cauchy solution for a vector ﬁeld, say
b(x, t) = J(a, t)b _{0} (a) 
or 
b _{i} (x, t) = J _{i}_{j} (a, t)b _{0}_{j} (a) 

and the fact that D _{t} (b · g) = 0 gives 

(b 
· g)(x, 
t) = (b _{0} 
· g _{0} )(a) 
or 
(b _{i} g _{i} )(x, t) 
= 
(b _{0}_{i} g _{0}_{i} )(a) 

one can check that 

g(x, t)J(a, t) = g _{0} (a) 
or 
g _{i} (x, t)J _{i}_{j} (a, t) = g _{0}_{j} (a) 
Or, if we deﬁne the matrix K(a, t) to be the inverse of J (a, t),
JK = KJ = I
or
then one can check that
g(x, t) = g _{0} (a, t)K(a, t)
J _{i}_{j} K _{j}_{k} = K _{i}_{j} J _{j}_{k} = δ _{i}_{k}
or
g _{i} (x, t) = g _{0}_{j} (a)K _{j}_{i} (a, t)
An alternative route is to obtain the equation for K as
∂K
∂t
^{} a
= −K(∇u) ^{T}
or
^{∂}^{K} ^{i}^{j}
∂t
^{} a
= −K _{i}_{k} ∂ _{j} u _{k} (x(a, t), t),
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K(a, 0) = I
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Kelvin’s theorem
Kelvin’s theorem states that in ideal ﬂow, the circulation of the ﬂuid ﬂow around any material curve C(t) is conserved in time.
Γ _{C} = _{C}_{(}_{t}_{)} u · dr
By virtue of Stokes’ theorem this may be written as an integral over a surface S(t) that spans C(t), with an appropriate choice of outward normal
Γ _{C} = _{S}_{(}_{t}_{)} ω · dS
The invariance of these follows easily from the discussion above. We know that since ω is a vector and dS is a oneform
and thus
D _{t} (ω · dS) = 0
dΓ C
dt
= _{S}_{(}_{t}_{)} D _{t} (ω · dS) = 0
Note that we had to take a material derivative inside the integral. To appre ciate this or visualise it, it is perhaps most natural to break up the surface S(t) into many inﬁnitesimal surface elements dS and apply the inﬁnitesimal version to each.
9 Energy and helicity invariants for ﬂuid ﬂow
We have conservation of (kinetic) energy
E _{K} = _{D} _{2} u ^{2} dV
1
with the no normal ﬂow boundary condition, and (kinetic) helicity
H _{K} = _{D} u · ω dV
with the boundary condition that
ω · n = 0
(r ∈ S)
This boundary condition states that vortex lines must be parallel to the bound ary. In a sense this is an unnatural boundary condition, and it would not be preserved if viscosity were present. However in ideal ﬂuid ﬂow it is is preserved
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if it is the case initially: to understand it we need to know more about the interpretation of the helicity integral.
To check the conservation of helicity, we take
dH _{K}
dt
= _{D} [(∂ _{t} u) · ω + u · (∂ _{t} ω)] dV
= _{D} [(u × ω − ∇P ) · ω + u · ∇ × (u × ω)] dV
= _{D} u · ∇ × (u × ω) dV
with the ω · n = 0 condition used to remove the ∇P · ω integral (recall the orthogonality property discussed earlier). We now use ω = ∇× u, the identity
∇ · (a × b) = b · ∇ × a − a · ∇ × b
and apply Gauss’ theorem to give
dH _{K}
dt
= _{S} (u × ω) × u · n dS
= _{S} [u ^{2} ω − (u · ω)u] · n dS = 0
This vanishes provided the natural boundary condition u·n = 0 holds and the condition that vortex lines do not penetrate the boundary, ω · n = 0. Under these conditions H _{K} is constant, independent of time.
It is interesting to look at the evolution of H _{K} (V) where now V(t) is a material volume, carried in the ﬂuid ﬂow. In this case we calculate as follows
dH _{K} (V)
dt
= _{V} [(D _{t} u) · ω + u · (D _{t} ω)] dV
= _{V} [−∇p · ω + u · (ω · ∇)u] dV
= _{V} ∇ · (−pω + ^{1} _{2} u ^{2} ω)
dV
= _{S} (−p + _{2} u ^{2} )ω · n dS = 0
1
provided that ω·n = 0 on the boundary S(t) of the volume V(t). Suppose that initially the volume V (0) is bounded by vortex lines, lying on the surface S (0). Then, as vortex lines are carried by the ﬂuid ﬂow the material surface S (t) will continue to be composed of vortex lines and so the boundary condition ω ·n = 0 will continue to hold. Thus for a material volume V (t) bounded by vortex lines H _{K} (V ) is conserved. When we discuss the topological interpretation of H _{K} this will become clear. Here we just note that there could be whole families of surfaces, for example nested tori, giving a continuous family of invariants, labelled by the surface.
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It would be nice to illustrate this with some exact solutions for ﬂuid ﬂows satisfying the unsteady Euler equations, but such solutions are few and far between! Instead we will content ourselves with the steady Euler equations and a family of ﬂows (a special case of the family of ABC ﬂows we will meet soon),
u = A(0, sin x, cos x) + B(cos y, 0, sin y) There are two parameters A and B (though only the ratio is important as we can rescale u and time t) and the ﬂows may be thought of as deﬁned in a 2π periodic cube, i.e. a 3torus T ^{3} . This ﬂow has the Beltrami property that ω = ∇ × u ∝ u, vorticity and velocity are everywhere parallel, and so it is a solution of the steady Euler equation. The ﬂow may also be written as
u = (∂ _{y} ψ, −∂ _{x} ψ, ψ),
ψ = A cos x + B sin y
and so we see that in the (x, y)plane the motion is along curves of constant ψ, while the vertical motion, that is in the zdirection, is constant on each curve of constant ψ. In full 3dimensional space, helical streamlines lie on cylinders of constant ψ and these are also vorticity surfaces. The helicity inside each surface is constant, as it must be trivially for a steady ﬂow! But in a more general context we have to imagine such a ﬂow evolving with time and the helicity inside each surface of constant ψ would be conserved.
10 Ideal MHD and gauges
Before going on to study the topological interpretation of ﬂuid helicity, we set up the analogous quantity of magnetic helicity. We consider the equations of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), which in suitable units take the form of the Navier–Stokes equation
∂ _{t} u = u × ω + j × b − ∇P + ν∇ ^{2} u
with the addition of the Lorentz force j × b and the magnetic induction equa tion
∂ _{t} b = ∇ × (u × b) − η∇ × (∇ × b) Here we take the viscosity ν and the magnetic diﬀusivity η to be constants (otherwise the above forms need modifying). The limit η → 0 is called the perfectly conducting limit as η ^{−}^{1} is proportional to the conductivity of the ﬂuid, and so is large in plasmas and liquid metals.
The two ﬁelds are divergenceless
∇ · u = ∇ · b = 0
The ﬁrst of these is an approximation (no ﬂuid is entirely incompressible) while the second is a fundamental law of physics (no magnetic monopoles).
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The electric current is given by
j = ∇ × b
Note that for divergenceless ﬁelds the two forms of the ﬁnal term are equivalent as a result of the vector identity
∇ × (∇ × u) = ∇(∇ · u) − ∇ ^{2} u
One can swap between these as needed.
There are a number of ways of rewriting the equations, for example as
D _{t} u =
∂ _{t} u + u · ∇u = b · ∇b − ∇P _{M} + ν∇ ^{2} u
D _{t} b = ∂ _{t} b + u · ∇b = b · ∇u + η∇ ^{2} b
where
P _{M} = p + now includes the magnetic pressure.
In the ideal case we set ν = η = 0 and consider the perfectly conducting and no normal ﬂow boundary conditions, namely
1 2 ^{b} 2
n · u = n · b = 0
(r ∈ S)
for a ﬁnite domain D with boundary S. This requirement gives no ﬂow through the boundary and also no magnetic ﬁeld lines penetrating the boundary. The latter is natural for theoretical discussion but not for many applications, for example the solar magnetic ﬁeld which penetrates the photosphere, into the magnetosphere; see later.
Alternatively we may impose that the vorticity and magnetic ﬁelds fall oﬀ rapidly (faster than any power of radius) in an inﬁnite domain, so that (at any time t) for any n,
ω(r, t), b(r, t) = o(r ^{−}^{n} )
(r → ∞)
We now focus on the ideal case ν = η = 0.
∂ _{t} u 
= 
u × ω + j × b − ∇P 
∂ _{t} b 
= 
∇ × (u × b) 
or
D _{t} u =
∂ _{t} u + u · ∇u = b · ∇b − ∇P _{M}
D _{t} b = ∂ _{t} b + u · ∇b = b · ∇u
14
We note ﬁrst that given ∇ · b = 0 initially, by taking the divergence of the induction equation it is preserved in time,
∂ _{t} ∇ · b = 0
This is ‘why’ there is no pressure needed in the magnetic induction equation. For u pressure is deﬁned to constrain u to remain divergenceless.
Also, the induction equation is completely analogous to the vorticity equation, except that the magnetic ﬁeld is not directly linked to the ﬂow ﬁeld u, whereas for vorticity ω = ∇ × u. Of course we did not use that link earlier in our discussion of Liedragging and so we still have the Cauchy solution for the magnetic induction equation
b(x, t) = J(a, t)b _{0} (a)
or
b _{i} (x, t) = J _{i}_{j} (a, t)b _{0}_{j} (a)
In fact in kinematic dynamo theory we assume the ﬁeld is so weak that the Lorentz force term may be neglected in the Navier–Stokes equation, and the ﬂow ﬁeld u may be speciﬁed independently of the magnetic ﬁeld. In this case the Cauchy solution can be really useful if the ﬂow is not too complicated.
We also have the analogue of Kelvin’s theorem, namely Alfv´en’s theorem that the ﬂux Φ _{S} of magnetic ﬁeld through any material surface S(t) is conserved,
Φ _{S} = _{S}_{(}_{t}_{)} b · dS
We have the usual conservation of energy with
E _{K} + E _{M} = _{D} _{2} u ^{2} dV + _{D} _{2} b ^{2} dV =
1
1
constant
What of helicity? Just as ω = ∇ × u, plainly we need to obtain a ﬁeld A with
b = ∇ × A
The existence of such a vector potential follows from ∇· b = 0, at least locally. This deﬁnition of A can be done globally in inﬁnite space or in a bounded domain provided that it is simply connected. However there can be problems in deﬁning A (as a singlevalued function) if the domain D is multiply connected. For example if we work in threedimensional periodic space D = T ^{3} we cannot uncurl a periodic b to obtain a periodic A unless it b has a zero average over D : no mean ﬁeld. We will not get sidetracked by these considerations (another way in which topology intrudes into MHD) here, but they may reemerge later on.
Instead we focus on a diﬀerent issue, that of gauge freedom : we can always add a gradient ∇χ to A without aﬀecting b:
A → A + ∇χ(r, t)
15
We uncurl the ideal induction equation in the form
∂ _{t} A = u × b + ∇φ = u × (∇ × A) + ∇φ
where the presence of ∇φ corresponds to the freedom to choose the gauge:
whatever we put here will disappear when we take the curl to obtain the induction equation for b. There are a number of choices for φ: one is to make ∇ · A = 0, in which case we require this to hold for the initial condition for A and then evolve A with φ determined by
∇ ^{2} φ = −∇ · (u × b)
This is a nonlocal equation, rather like that for the pressure in the Euler equation.
11 Magnetic helicity
Given A with some choice of gauge we can deﬁne the magnetic helicity over
the domain D by
H M = _{} D A · b dV
We then have
∂ _{t} H _{M} = _{D} [(u × b + ∇φ) · b + A · ∇ × (u × b)] dV
Now the integral of (∇φ) · b vanishes as usual with n · b = 0 on the boundary and so the integral is reassuringly independent of the choice of gauge. Also u × b · b = 0, removing one term above, and with this we have
∇ · ((u × b) × A) = A · ∇ × (u × b)
from which after applying Gauss’ theorem
∂ _{t} H _{M} = _{S} n · (u × b) × A dS =
_{S} n · [(u · A)b − (b · A)u] dS = 0
by virtue of the boundary conditions: n · b = 0 so no ﬁeld lines leave through the boundary, and n · u = 0 so there is no ﬂow to transport helicity density b · A out of the domain.
For ideal MHD, the kinetic helicity H _{K} is no longer conserved but a quantity called the crosshelicity is:
H _{X} = _{D} u · b dV
What of our magnetic ‘vector’ potential A: is it a vector or a oneform? As it stands it is neither, in the sense that it is generally not transported locally:
16
for example if one imposes the gauge ∇ · A = 0 then one has to solve a global, Poisson equation for the gauge φ. However we can write
∂ _{t} A = u × (∇ × A) + ∇φ = −u · ∇A + (∇A) · u + ∇φ
With the choice φ = −u · A we have
∇φ = −(∇u) · A − (∇A) · u
and so
D _{t} A = ∂ _{t} A + u · ∇A = −(∇u) · A which is the equation for the Liedragging of a oneform. A is a oneform ﬁeld with this particular choice of gauge and then we not only have conservation of the integral of helicity but also of its value, the helicity density h _{M} = A · b advected in the ﬂuid ﬂow
D _{t} h _{M} = ∂ _{t} h _{M} + u · ∇h _{M} = 0
Although this is attractive, having a materially conserved quantity, it does depend on following the ﬁeld A in this gauge, and as it evolves it may become very ﬁnescaled. Typically people would rather follow the magnetic ﬁeld b and then compute A in a suitable gauge such as ∇ · A = 0: in this case we can only use the integrated form H _{M} of the helicity as a conserved quantity.
As in the case of kinetic helicity we can establish that H _{M} is conserved if taken over a material volume V(t) contained in the domain D,
H _{M} (V) = _{V}_{(}_{t}_{)} A · b dV
We can use the form
D _{t} b = b · ∇u,
D _{t} A = −(∇u) · A + ∇ψ
for an arbitrary gauge and obtain (with D _{t} dV = 0)
dH _{M} (V)
dt
= _{V}_{(}_{t}_{)} [b · (D _{t} A) + (D _{t} b) · A] dV = _{V}_{(}_{t}_{)} b · ∇ψ dV = 0
using Gauss’ theorem with n · b = 0 on the boundary of V. As for vorticity, if the surface S volume is composed of magnetic ﬁeld lines, then the helicity within is conserved.
Historical note: the conservation of magnetic helicity was noted by Woltjer in 1958: the attractive name of helicity was chosen because H _{M} or H _{K} change sign under reﬂection, being pseudoscalars, by Moﬀatt in 1969.
For example consider the ﬂow
u = (−y, x, x ^{2} + y ^{2} )
ω = (0, 0, 2)
17
u · ω = 2(x ^{2} + y ^{2} )
and its mirror image under inversion r → −r
u = (−y, x, −x ^{2} − y ^{2} )
ω = (0, 0, 2)
u · ω = −2(x ^{2} + y ^{2} )
12 Topological interpretation of helicity as linking number
We now consider the interpretation of helicity. We can work with either the ﬂuid helicity
H K = _{} D u · ω dV
or the
H M = _{} D A · b dV
in the whole domain D where the ﬂow or ﬁeld is deﬁned. We shall choose to work with the magnetic helicity.
Consider two thin linked tubes T _{j} in D, of magnetic ﬁeld as depicted, with centre lines C _{j} for j = 1, 2. Here b = 0 outside each one, and each carries a
ﬂux Φ _{j} > 0: the direction of traversal along C _{j} is in the direction of the ﬁeld.
The ﬂux is the integral Φ j = _{} A j
magnetic helicity
b · dS
where A _{j} is a surface spanning T _{j} with normal in the direction of the ﬁeld, i.e. a cross sectional area of the tube. We also assume that, individually, each tube is unknotted.
Focussing on the fact that b is nonzero only in the tubes, we have two con tributions to the helicity integral, H _{M} = H _{1} + H _{2} , where
H _{j} = _{T} j A · b dV
We can approximate these as integrals along the centrelines C _{j} of the tubes, replacing b dV with Φ _{j} dr, as
H _{j} = Φ _{j} _{C} j A · dr
We may now use Stokes’ theorem: the integral of A around C _{j} is the integral of the ﬁeld b = ∇ × A through a surface S _{j} spanning C _{j}
H _{j} = Φ _{j} _{S} j b · dS
and so is plusorminus the ﬂux of the other tube, depending on orientation. For the picture shown and j = 1 we have a plus sign and so H _{1} = Φ _{1} Φ _{2} . Likewise H _{2} = Φ _{1} Φ _{2} and the total helicity is H _{M} = 2Φ _{1} Φ _{2} . If the tubes are
18
not linked the value is zero, and if one set of arrows is reversed (or the whole system is reﬂected) then H _{M} changes sign.
In general we have the result for a whole collection of tubes (each individually
unknotted) labelled by j that
H _{M} = ^{}
i j
Φ i Φ j α ij
where α _{i}_{j} are integers that label the signed number of times that the centre line C _{j} of the jth ﬂux tube crosses the surface S _{i} spanning the centre line C _{i}
of the ith ﬂux tube. Here the sign is +1 when the direction of C _{j} agrees with
the outward normal of S _{i} , obtained from a righthand rule from the direction
of the centre line C _{i}
Note that it is important that the ﬂux tubes individually are not knotted (in knot theory these are called unknots ) and we set α _{i}_{j} = 0 for i = j. If a tube is knotted then we may break it up into a collection of unknotted tubes (see pictures) by inserting links and then compute the helicity this way. This deﬁnes the value of α _{i}_{j} for i = j in this more complicated case.
A 
number of notes are in order. First, the topological nature of the invariant, 
in 
terms of the linkage of magnetic ﬁeld lines or of vortex lines, explains why 
it 
is invariant under ideal, frozen ﬁeld evolution: linkages cannot be broken if 
magnetic ﬁeld or vortex lines move materially with the ﬂuid. It also explains why the condition that the ﬁeld, or vortex, lines must satisfy ω · n = b · n = 0, either on the surface of the domain D for the total helicity, or on the surface of a moving material volume V (t). We cannot deﬁne linkage (easily) if the ﬁeld or vortex lines do not close up. Note, though, that some important applications involve ﬁeld lines that do intersect surfaces, for example in the solar corona, and ways of measuring linkage have been adapted to this: see later.
There is a connection between helicity and an invariant known as the Gauss linking number. Consider a magnetic ﬁeld b in unbounded space that occupies tubes T _{j} with centrelines C _{j} and has ﬂuxes Φ _{j} . The corresponding A (in the gauge ∇ · A = 0) may be obtained at any time by a Biot–Savart integral (as can the velocity from the vorticity) namely,
A(r) = −
1
4π _{D}
(r − r ^{} ) × b(r ^{} ) r − r ^{}  ^{3}
dV ^{}
If we replace b(r ^{} ) dV ^{} in the jth tube by Φ _{j} dr ^{} then we obtain
A(r) = ^{} −
j
j
Φ
4π _{C} _{j}
(r − r ^{} ) × dr ^{} r − r ^{}  ^{3}
We now plug this into
H = ^{}
i
Φ ^{i} C i
A · dr
19
from above to obtain
H = ^{}
i j
Φ i Φ j α ij
with
α ij =
1
4π _{C} _{i} _{C} _{j}
(r − r ^{} ) · dr × dr ^{}
r − r ^{}  ^{3}
This integral gives an integer, which is the Gauss linking number of curve i
with curve j for i
Note that if the linking number α _{i}_{j} between any two curves is nonzero then they are linked, and cannot be smoothly separated. However one can obtain conﬁgurations such as the Borromean rings, which are 3 linked rings: they cannot be pulled apart but have the property α _{1}_{2} = α _{2}_{3} = α _{3}_{1} = 0.
Furthermore we have assumed there is no linkage associated with the ﬁeld lines inside a given ﬂux tube: this is not always correct and leads on to how one measures the twist of ﬁeld in a tube (which may itself be in a complicated knot) and the related topic of writhe. This will be taken up later in the course.
A ﬁnal issue here is that we have focussed on ﬁeld that is concentrated in
discrete ﬂux tubes (or vorticity in discrete vortex tubes). But what of ﬁeld
in a continuous distribution, for example take the vorticity ﬁeld ω = u for
members of the ABC family above. In this case very few ﬁeld lines actually close. The work above has been generalised by Arnold to cover this case, and he refers to this as the asymptotic Hopf invariant. We will not reproduce the proof here, but the idea is to take magnetic ﬁeld lines starting at points a and integrate trajectories x(a, t) along them for a time T , say. One then uses a set of paths to link the end points x(a, T ) to the initial points a:
these paths are to be short and straight. This then gives a collection of closed curves whose Gauss linking numbers may be computed and integrated. An appropriate limiting procedure taking T → ∞ yields the helicity or Arnold’s asymptotic Hopf invariant as the limit of the Gauss linking number, for a continuous magnetic ﬁeld.
= j.
13 Beltrami ﬂows and the ABC ﬂows
We now return to ﬂuid ﬂows: our aim is to look at the structure of some steady Euler ﬂows and how this is constrained.
Consider an ideal ﬂuid in a ﬁnite region D with helicity H _{K} = 0. What is the minimum value of the enstrophy
Ω _{K} = _{D} ω ^{2} dV
20
for this given value of helicity? By the Cauchy–Schwartz inequality we have
H _{K} = _{D} u · ω dV ^{2} ≤ _{D} u ^{2} dV _{D} ω ^{2} dV = 2E _{K} Ω _{K}
2
We also have a Poincar´e inequality that for a given ﬁnite region D there is a constant L such that
Ω _{K} = _{D} ω ^{2} dV ≥ L ^{−}^{2} _{D} u ^{2} dV = 2L ^{−}^{2} E _{K}
for any u with n · u = 0 on the boundary. The number L ^{−}^{1} is the smallest value such that
ω = ∇ × u = L ^{−}^{1} u has a nontrivial solution in D subject to the no normal ﬂow boundary con dition u · n = 0.
From these two inequalities we have
H _{K} ≤ 2E _{K} Ω _{K} ≤ L ^{2} Ω
2
2
K
and so can write a lower bound for the enstrophy
Ω _{K} ≥ L ^{−}^{1} H _{K} 
in terms of the helicity. Plainly equality occurs when
ω = λu
everywhere in D, where λ = L ^{−}^{1} is a constant.
Such ﬂows with the vorticity and velocity everywhere parallel are called Bel trami ﬂows and satisfy the steady Euler equation since u × ω = 0 identically. Here the ﬂow and vorticity are proportional by a constant, namely λ.
The condition ∇ × u = λu gives an eigenvalue problem, and the least eigen value gives L ^{−}^{1} . We have already met one such solution which is a special case of the ABC (or Arnold–Beltrami–Childress) family of ﬂows, taking the form
u = A(0, sin x, cos x) + B(cos y, 0, sin y) + C(sin z, cos z, 0)
(in periodic space T ^{3} with no mean ﬂow). If one of A, B or C is zero, we have a ﬂow with regular streamsurfaces, seen earlier. In a certain plane there will be a repeated pattern of cat’s eyes. However if all three are nonzero, then typically we see a complex mixture of regular vortices, with stream surfaces that take the form of tori, interlaced with regions of chaos. To make life diﬃcult the ﬂow is highly threedimensional. It has been studied by means of Poincar´e sections, in which a trajectory x(a, t) is follows and points plotted whenever this intersects one of a family of planes, for example a plane of constant x.
21
Amazingly, this is a steady Euler ﬂow, and raises the question: just how compli cated can steady Euler ﬂows be? Are there any constraints on their structure? An answer to this question (and pretty much all that is known) is provided in a rigorous result of Arnold, which we set out informally as follows. We worm
in a ﬁnite domain D which could be a sphere, or could be periodic space T ^{3} .
A steady Euler ﬂow obeys
u × ω = ∇P
and so
u · ∇P = ω · ∇P = 0
Now, provided ∇P does not vanish identically in a 3dimensional region of space, there will exist a family of 2dimensional surfaces S(P _{0} ) on which P = P _{0} is constant. The above result says that streamlines and vortex lines will be tangent to such surfaces. To understand what form the surfaces can take we need to be careful about points where ∇P = 0. We assume there are only ﬁnitely many such points in the domain D under consideration. We then choose a value P = P _{0} = constant, to give a surface S(P _{0} ) which does not intersect any points with ∇P = 0 (in other words we avoid the ﬁnite number
of exceptional values of P _{0} where this occurs). We also assume the surface
does not intersect the boundary of D. The vorticity and velocity vectors are tangent to this surface S(P _{0} ) and can vanish nowhere on it. It can be shown that the only such surface is topologically a torus, and that the velocity and vorticity ﬁelds wind around it. As we vary the value of P _{0} we obtain nested tori S(P _{0} ), provided we do not encounter a point where ∇P = 0: at such a point surfaces may intersect.
Note that the reason the surfaces of constant P must be tori is linked to the nonvanishing of the ﬂow ﬁeld u (or ω) on the surfaces. For example the surfaces cannot be spheres as it is impossible to deﬁne a nonvanishing vector ﬁeld: this is the famous result that one cannot comb a hairy ball, or that at any time the horizontal wind velocity must vanish at at least one location on the earth’s spherical surface. (For more information, in particular the link to the Euler characteristic of a surface, see the book of Arnold and Khesin [1].)
This analysis assumes that P varies in space and ∇P = 0 at only ﬁnitely many points, so that nested twodimensional surfaces P = P _{0} = constant may be deﬁned. But what if P is constant and so ∇P = 0 over a whole 3dimensional volume V , a subdomain of D? In such a case we must have that u × ω = 0 everywhere in V, so that
ω = αu for some function α(r): the ﬂow must be Beltrami. But given that ∇ · u = ∇ · ω = 0, we can take the divergence of ω or u and rapidly show that
u · ∇α = ω · ∇α = 0
Now the argument repeats itself: if α(r) deﬁnes twodimensional surfaces S(α) and with ∇α = 0 assumed only at a ﬁnite number of points (which we avoid),
22
then the velocity and vorticity vectors must be tangent to the surfaces and nonvanishing. The surfaces are again tori.
The ﬁnal possibility then is that α(r) is in fact a constant, say α(r) = λ, over a whole 3dimensional region V and in this case we have
ω = λu
there, which is the eigenvalue problem giving us the ABC family of ﬂows we had earlier in the particular case when V is all of periodic space. In other domains there will be other families of ﬂows: for example there are analogues of ABC ﬂows in spherical geometry.
In conclusion, ﬂow lines and vorticity lines lie on nested tori except in the
special case of constant Bernoulli function P = p +
λ = constant. The ABC ﬂows provide an example of this: for example the values A = B = C = 1 show a complex topology of ﬂuid trajectories. These include invariant surfaces on which some stream lines sit, but interleaved with these are thin bands of chaotic trajectories. There is no mathematical reason why there should be any surfaces at all, and in fact the amount of chaos in the ﬂow varies with the parameters. At another extreme, if C = 0 the ﬂow shows a cat’s eye structure as mentioned before. Here there are two distinct families of tori on which streamlines (or vortex lines sit).
The reader may wonder why we cannot have regions where there are two dimensional surfaces P = constant interleaved with threedimensional regions in which P is identically constant. Or one could have a sequence of points where ∇P = 0 that accumulate at some point in space. There are a lot of possibilities in three dimensions! In fact the theorem of Arnold excludes this by requiring that the ﬁeld u be complex analytic: this means that critical points ∇P = 0 (or ∇α = 0) cannot accumulate, and that if P (or α) is constant in any threedimensional volume then it is constant everywhere. Thus either there are P = P _{0} surfaces with ∇P = 0 at only ﬁnitely many points, or P is constant with ∇P = 0 everywhere in D: there is no messy mixture allowed. In the latter case either α = α _{0} surfaces exist with ∇α = 0 at ﬁnitely many points, or ∇α = 0 everywhere in D. The assumption of analyticity gives clear and clean alternatives at each point in the argument.
More general situations, in which the ﬁelds are only required to be inﬁnitely diﬀerentiable, or arise from magnetic relaxation (see below) do not appear to have been studied, and are likely to be complicated.
_{2} 1 u ^{2} and ω = λu with
23
14
Magnetic relaxation
Consider the following problem: we consider evolution of magnetic ﬁeld with zero magnetic diﬀusion η = 0, under the full MHD equations including non zero viscosity ν > 0. These are
∂ _{t} u = u × ω + j × b − ∇P + ν∇ ^{2} u
∂ _{t} b = ∇ × (u × b)
∇ · u = ∇ · b = 0,
j = ∇ × b
or equivalent. We work in a domain D which is ﬁnite with u = 0, n · b = 0 on the boundary S . We have kinetic and magnetic energies
E _{K} = _{D} ^{1} _{2} u ^{2} dV,
E _{M} = _{D} _{2} b ^{2} dV
1
Then it may be shown that
d
_{d}_{t} (E _{K} + E _{M} ) = −ν _{D} ∇u ^{2} dV
and so the total energy E = E _{K} + E _{M} ≥ 0 of the system decreases mono tonically as t → ∞ and must tend to a limit, positive or zero. Recall that ∇u ^{2} = (∂ _{i} u _{j} )(∂ _{i} u _{j} ) ≥ 0.
Can the limit be zero? Suppose we start with a given magnetic ﬁeld b _{0} and zero ﬂow u = 0: then the Lorentz force j × b will tend to drive a ﬂow (ﬁeld lines are elastic and tend to contract, reducing magnetic energy). But the ﬁeld lines are frozen in the ﬂow and so any linkages and any helicity integrals (over the whole domain or over subvolumes) must be conserved: this constrains how small the magnetic energy may be. In fact we have from our discussion of Beltrami ﬂows that
Ω _{K} = _{D} ω ^{2} dV ≥ L ^{−}^{1} _{} _{D} u · ω dV _{} = L ^{−}^{1} H _{K} 
where L is the constant appearing in the Poincar´e inequality. In magnetic terms this tells us that
2E _{M} = _{D} B ^{2} dV ≥ L ^{−}^{1} _{} _{D} A · b dV _{} = L ^{−}^{1} H _{M} 
and so the helicity, if nonzero initially, gives a lower bound on the magnetic energy. (In fact a little care must be taken with the deﬁnition of L here as it involves boundary conditions on A
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