Growing finite-amplitude initially spanwise-independent two-dimensional rotational waves and their nonlinear interaction with unidirectional viscous shear flows of various strengths are considered. Both primary and secondary instabilities are studied, but only secondary instabilities are permitted to vary in the spanwise direction. A generalized Lagrangian-mean formulation is employed to describe wave-mean interactions, and a separate theory is constructed to account for the back effect of the developing mean flow on the wave field. Viscosity is seen to significantly complicate calculation of the back effect. The primary instability is seen to act as a platform for, and catalyst to, secondary instabilities. The analysis leads to an eigenvalue problem for the initial growth of the secondary instability, this being a generalization of the eigenvalue problem constructed by Craik for inviscid neutral waves. Two inviscid secondary instability mechanisms to longitudinal vortex form are observed: the first has as its basis the Craik]Leibovich type 2 mechanism. The second, which is as yet unproven, requires that both the wave and flow field distort in concert at all levels of shear. Both mechanisms excite exponential growth on a convective rather than diffusive scale in the presence of neutral waves, but growing waves alter that growth rate.
Studies in Applied Mathematics,
Vol. 101, no. 1 (Jul 1998), pp. 23-47