WIAS Preprint No. 2436, (2017)

Towards computable flows and robust estimates for inf-sup stable FEM applied to the time-dependent incompressible Navier--Stokes equations


  • Schroeder, Philipp W.
  • Lehrenfeld, Christoph
  • Linke, Alexander
    ORCID: 0000-0002-0165-2698
  • Lube, Gerd

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 35Q30 65M15 65M60 76D17 76M10


  • Time-dependent incompressible flow, Re-semi-robust error estimates, pressure-robustness, inf-sup stable methods, exactly divergence-free FEM




Inf-sup stable FEM applied to time-dependent incompressible Navier--Stokes flows are considered. The focus lies on robust estimates for the kinetic and dissipation energies in a twofold sense. Firstly, pressure-robustness ensures the fulfilment of a fundamental invariance principle and velocity error estimates are not corrupted by the pressure approximability. Secondly, Re-semi-robustness means that constants appearing on the right-hand side of kinetic and dissipation energy error estimates (including Gronwall constants) do not explicitly depend on the Reynolds number. Such estimates rely on an essential regularity assumption for the gradient of the velocity, which is discussed in detail. In the sense of best practice, we review and establish pressure- and Re-semi-robust estimates for pointwise divergence-free H1-conforming FEM (like Scott--Vogelius pairs or certain isogeometric based FEM) and pointwise divergence-free H(div)-conforming discontinuous Galerkin FEM. For convection-dominated problems, the latter naturally includes an upwind stabilisation for the velocity which is not gradient-based.

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