Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 349–377

Observation of organized structure in turbulent flow within and above a forest canopy


  • W. Gao
    • Department of Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of California
  • R. H. Shaw
    • Department of Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of California
  • K. T. Paw U
    • Department of Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/BF00122339

Cite this article as:
Gao, W., Shaw, R.H. & Paw U, K.T. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (1989) 47: 349. doi:10.1007/BF00122339


Ramp patterns of temperature and humidity occur coherently at several levels within and above a deciduous forest as shown by data gathered with up to seven triaxial sonic anemometer/thermometers and three Lyman-alpha hygrometers at an experimental site in Ontario, Canada. The ramps appear most clearly in the middle and upper portion of the forest. Time/height cross-sections of scalar contours and velocity vectors, developed from both single events and ensemble averages of several events, portray details of the flow structures associated with the scalar ramps. Near the top of the forest they are composed of a weak ejecting motion transporting warm and/or moist air out of the forest followed by strong sweeps of cool and/or dry air penetrating into the canopy. The sweep is separated from the ejecting air by a sharp scalar microfront. At approximately twice the height of the forest, ejections and sweeps are of about equal strength.

In the middle and upper parts of the canopy, sweeps conduct a large proportion of the overall transfer between the forest and the lower atmosphere, with a lesser contribution from ejections. Ejections become equally important aloft. During one 30-min run, identified structures were responsible for more than 75% of the total fluxes of heat and momentum at mid-canopy height. Near the canopy top, the transition from ejection of slow moving fluid to sweep bringing fast moving air from above is very rapid but, at both higher and lower levels, brief periods of upward momentum transfer occur at or immediately before the microfront.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989