New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Vortex Formation

Team: 56

School: Los Alamos High

Area of Science: Fluid Dynamics


Interim: Problem Definition:
Vortices are regions within fluids, in which the flow is spinning around an axis. In the case of our project, the fluid is air and the vortices come in the form of atmospheric disturbances of the likes of tornadoes and dust devils. Creating an accurate computational simulation of the formation of such a disturbance, as well as the continuous factors keeping a vortex from dissolving, is often extremely difficult, as there are a host of complex phenomena occurring simultaneously to make up said vortex.

Our aim in this project is to create a simulation of the factors which are involved in a stable vortex. Such a simulation could prove beneficial to researchers attempting to understand the factors which control vortex formation. Furthermore, such a simulation could be useful for researchers on the field, such a storm chasers, who could benefit from having express knowledge of where and when a tornado will form.

Problem Solution:
An advanced understanding of physics as well as the ability to translate this understanding into a numerical model, will be important for us to make this project a reality. We plan to use the Java programming language to create a program which implements derivations of the Naviar-Stokes equations to accurately simulate the currents that form a vortex. The computational model will most likely use a combination of Eulerian and Lagrangian frameworks as part of creating a functioning solution.

Progress so far:
Thus far we have evaluated different methods of solving our problem. We have come to the conclusion that a Lagrangian model using various derivations of the Naviar-Stokes equations is the best approach for the problem we have chosen. We have located multiple mentors with expertise in the field. We plan to use the expertise these mentors provide to create our simulation. Furthermore we have create a very basic proof of concept program that demonstrates the necessary cell systems and implements a cylindrical equation in 3D and visualizes the results on a 2D plane. We will use this as a base to expand upon in the coming months.

Expected results:
We expect to have a simulator that can generate an accurate representation of the discrete conditions involved in the formation, and continued existence, of a vortex. As part of us using a Lagrangian framework, the tornado would be suspended in a clustering of cells, each of them having their own pressure and temperature values. We will export this data into another program which will create a 3D representation of the vortex at hand. We plan to use a java 3D plotting library to create the visual representation. We will also represent the results using other methods such as tracing the movement of theoretical objects through the currents of the vortex.


Team Members:

  Colin Redman
  Sudeep Dasari
  David Murphy

Sponsoring Teacher: Lee Goodwin

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