Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 146, Issue 3, pp 375–392 | Cite as

Flow Over Partially Forested Ridges



Numerical simulations of flow over hills that are partially covered with a forest canopy are performed. This represents a much more realistic situation than previous studies that have generally concentrated on hills that are fully-forested. The results show that the flow over the hill is sensitive to where on the hill the forest is positioned. In particular, for low slopes flow separation is predominantly located within the forest on the lee slope. This has implications for the transport of scalars in the forest canopy. For large hills the results show more variability in scalar concentrations within the canopy compared to either a fully-forested hill or a patch of forest over flat terrain. These results are likely to have implications for a range of applications including the siting and interpretation of flux measurements over forests in complex terrain, predicting wind damage to trees and wind-farm developments. Calculation of the hill-induced pressure drag and canopy-plus-surface stress shows a strong sensitivity to the position of the forest relative to the hill. Depending on the position of the forest the individual drag terms may be strongly enhanced or reduced and may even change sign. The net impact is generally to reduce the total drag compared to an equivalent fully-forested hill, but the amount of the reduction depends strongly on the position of the forest canopy on the hill. In many cases with large, wide hills there is a clear separation of scales between the adjustment of the canopy to a forest edge (of order 6 − 8Lc, where Lc is the canopy adjustment length scale) and the width of the hill. This separation means that the hill-induced pressure and flow fields and the forest-edge induced pressure and flow fields can in some sense be considered as acting separately. This provides a means of explaining the combined effects of partial forestation and terrain. It also offers a simple method for modelling the changes in drag over a hill due to partial forest cover by considering the impact of the hill and the partial canopy separately. Scaling arguments based on this idea successfully collapse the modelled drag over a range of different hill widths and heights and for different canopy parameters. This offers scope for a relatively simple parametrization of the effects of partial forest cover on the drag over a hill.


Flow over a hill Forest canopy Forest edge Partial forest cover Pressure drag Scalar transport 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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