Refining Finite-Time Lyapunov Exponent Ridges and the Challenges of Classifying Them
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While more rigorous and sophisticated methods for identifying Lagrangian based coherent structures exist, the finite-time Lyapunov exponent (FTLE) field remains a straightforward and popular method for gaining some insight into transport by complex, time-dependent two-dimensional flows. In light of its enduring appeal, and in support of good practice, we begin by investigating the effects of discretization and noise on two numerical approaches for calculating the FTLE field. A practical method to extract and refine FTLE ridges in two-dimensional flows, which builds on previous methods, is then presented. Seeking to better ascertain the role of a FTLE ridge in flow transport, we adapt an existing classification scheme and provide a thorough treatment of the challenges of classifying the types of deformation represented by a FTLE ridge. As a practical demonstration, the methods are applied to an ocean surface velocity field data set generated by a numerical model. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.