The concern of this paper is the Cauchy problem for the Prandtl equation. This problem is known to be well-posed for analytic data, or for data with monotonicity properties. We prove here that it is linearly ill-posed in Sobolev type spaces. The key of the analysis is the construction, at high tangential frequencies, of unstable quasimodes for the linearization around solutions with nondegenerate critical points. Interestingly, the strong instability is due to viscosity, which is coherent with well-posedness results obtained for the inviscid version of the equation. A numerical study of this instability is also provided.
Gérard-Varet, David Dormy, Emmanuel