M. Üffinger, F. Sadlo, T. Ertl:

A Time-Dependent Vector Field Topology Based on Streak Surfaces

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 379–392, 2013.


It was shown recently how the 2D vector field topology concept, directly applicable to stationary vector fields only, can be generalized to time-dependent vector fields by replacing the role of stream lines by streak lines [1]. The present paper extends this concept to 3D vector fields. In traditional 3D vector field topology separatrices can be obtained by integrating stream lines from 0-dimensional seeds corresponding to critical points. We show that in our new concept, in contrast, 1-dimensional seeding constructs are required for computing streak-based separatrices. In analogy to the 2D generalization we show that invariant manifolds can be obtained by seeding streak surfaces along distinguished path surfaces emanating from intersection curves between codimension-1 ridges in the forward and reverse finite-time Lyapunov exponent (FTLE) fields. These path surfaces represent a time-dependent generalization of critical points and convey further structure in time-dependent topology of vector fields. Compared to the traditional approach based on FTLE ridges, the resulting streak manifolds ease the analysis of Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) with respect to visual quality and computational cost, especially when time series of LCS are computed. We exemplify validity and utility of the new approach using both synthetic examples and computational fluid dynamics results.

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