Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 443–465 | Cite as

Estimating Aerodynamic Parameters of Urban-Like Surfaces with Heterogeneous Building Heights

  • J. T. Millward-Hopkins
  • A. S. TomlinEmail author
  • L. Ma
  • D. Ingham
  • M. Pourkashanian


There are many geometrical factors than can influence the aerodynamic parameters of urban surfaces and hence the vertical wind profiles found above. The knowledge of these parameters has applications in numerous fields, such as dispersion modelling, wind loading calculations, and estimating the wind energy resource at urban locations. Using quasi-empirical modelling, we estimate the dependence of the aerodynamic roughness length and zero-plane displacement for idealized urban surfaces, on the two most significant geometrical characteristics; surface area density and building height variability. A validation of the spatially-averaged, logarithmic wind profiles predicted by the model is carried out, via comparisons with available wind-tunnel and numerical data for arrays of square based blocks of uniform and heterogeneous heights. The model predicts two important properties of the aerodynamic parameters of surfaces of heterogeneous heights that have been suggested by experiments. Firstly, the zero-plane displacement of a heterogeneous array can exceed the surface mean building height significantly. Secondly, the characteristic peak in roughness length with respect to surface area density becomes much softer for heterogeneous arrays compared to uniform arrays, since a variation in building height can prevent a skimming flow regime from occurring. Overall the simple model performs well against available experimental data and may offer more accurate estimates of surface aerodynamic parameters for complex urban surfaces compared to models that do not include height variability.


Aerodynamic roughness length Displacement height Heterogeneous array Surface roughness Urban surfaces Vertical wind profiles Zero-plane displacement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. T. Millward-Hopkins
    • 1
  • A. S. Tomlin
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Ma
    • 1
  • D. Ingham
    • 1
  • M. Pourkashanian
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Process, Environmental and Materials EngineeringUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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