, Volume 78, Issue 3-4, pp 351-382

Coherent eddies and turbulence in vegetation canopies: The mixing-layer analogy

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Abstract

This paper argues that the active turbulence and coherent motions near the top of a vegetation canopy are patterned on a plane mixing layer, because of instabilities associated with the characteristic strong inflection in the mean velocity profile. Mixing-layer turbulence, formed around the inflectional mean velocity profile which develops between two coflowing streams of different velocities, differs in several ways from turbulence in a surface layer. Through these differences, the mixing-layer analogy provides an explanation for many of the observed distinctive features of canopy turbulence. These include: (a) ratios between components of the Reynolds stress tensor; (b) the ratio K H/K M of the eddy diffusivities for heat and momentum; (c) the relative roles of ejections and sweeps; (d) the behaviour of the turbulent energy balance, particularly the major role of turbulent transport; and (e) the behaviour of the turbulent length scales of the active coherent motions (the dominant eddies responsible for vertical transfer near the top of the canopy). It is predicted that these length scales are controlled by the shear length scale % MathType!MTEF!2!1!+-% feaafeart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLn% hiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr% 4rNCHbGeaGqiVu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq-Jc9% vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0-yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr-x% fr-xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamitamaaBa% aaleaacaWGtbaabeaakiabg2da9iaadwfacaGGOaGaamiAaiaacMca% caGGVaGabmyvayaafaGaaiikaiaadIgacaGGPaaaaa!3FD0!\[L_S = U(h)/U'(h)\] (where h is canopy height, U(z) is mean velocity as a function of height z, and % MathType!MTEF!2!1!+-% feaafeart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLn% hiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr% 4rNCHbGeaGqiVu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq-Jc9% vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0-yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr-x% fr-xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGabmyvayaafa% Gaeyypa0JaaeizaiaadwfacaGGVaGaaeizaiaadQhaaaa!3C32!\[U' = {\rm{d}}U/{\rm{d}}z\]). In particular, the streamwise spacing of the dominant canopy eddies is λx = mL s, with m = 8.1. These predictions are tested against many sets of field and wind-tunnel data. We propose a picture of canopy turbulence in which eddies associated with inflectional instabilities are modulated by larger-scale, inactive turbulence, which is quasi-horizontal on the scale of the canopy.