Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 123–147

Organised Motion in a Tall Spruce Canopy: Temporal Scales, Structure Spacing and Terrain Effects

Original Paper


This study investigates the organised motion near the canopy-atmosphere interface of a moderately dense spruce forest in heterogeneous, complex terrain. Wind direction is used to assess differences in topography and surface properties. Observations were obtained at several heights above and within the canopy using sonic anemometers and fast-response gas analysers over the course of several weeks. Analysed variables include the three-dimensional wind vector, the sonic temperature, and the concentration of carbon dioxide. Wavelet analysis was used to extract the organised motion from time series and to derive its temporal scales. Spectral Fourier analysis was deployed to compute power spectra and phase spectra. Profiles of temporal scales of ramp-like coherent structures in the vertical and longitudinal wind components showed a reversed variation with height and were of similar size within the canopy. Temporal scales of scalar fields were comparable to those of the longitudinal wind component suggesting that the lateral scalar transport dominates. The existence of a – 1 power law in the longitudinal power spectra was confirmed for a few cases only, with a majority showing a clear 5/3 decay. The variation of effective scales of organised motion in the longitudinal velocity and temperature were found to vary with atmospheric stability, suggesting that both Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities and attached eddies dominate the flow with increasing convectional forcing. The canopy mixing-layer analogy was observed to be applicable for ramp-like coherent structures in the vertical wind component for selected wind directions only. Departures from the prediction of m = ΛwLs−1 = 8–10 (where Λw is the streamwise spacing of coherent structures in the vertical wind w and Ls is a canopy shear length scale) were caused by smaller shear length scales associated with large-scale changes in the terrain as well as the vertical structure of the canopy. The occurrence of linear gravity waves was related to a rise in local topography and can therefore be referred to as mountain-type gravity waves. Temporal scales of wave motion and ramp-like coherent structures were observed to be comparable.


Coherent structures Gravity Waves Mixing-layer Analogy Vegetation Wavelet transform 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrometeorologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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