Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 179–197

A comparative study of some mathematical models of the mean wind structure and aerodynamic drag of plant canopies

  • William Massman

DOI: 10.1007/BF00140075

Cite this article as:
Massman, W. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (1987) 40: 179. doi:10.1007/BF00140075


A semi-analytical method for describing the mean wind profile and shear stress within plant canopies and for estimating the roughness length and the displacement height is presented. This method incorporates density and vertical structure of the canopy and includes simple parameterizations of the roughness sublayer and shelter factor. Some of the wind profiles examined are consistent with first-order closure techniques while others are consistent with second-order closure techniques. Some profiles show a shearless region near the base of the canopy; however, none displays a secondary maximum there. Comparing several different analytical expressions for the canopy wind profile against observations suggests that one particular type of profile (an Airy function which is associated with the triangular foliage surface area density distribution) is superior to the others. Because of the numerical simplicity of the methods outlined, it is suggested that they may be profitably used in large-scale models of plant-atmosphere exchanges.

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Massman
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  2. 2.USDA/US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment StationFort CollinsUSA