Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 251–276 | Cite as

An Improved Three-Dimensional Simulation of the Diurnally Varying Street-Canyon Flow



The impact of diurnal variations of the heat fluxes from building and ground surfaces on the fluid flow and air temperature distribution in street canyons is numerically investigated using the PArallelized Large-eddy Simulation Model (PALM). Simulations are performed for a 3 by 5 array of buildings with canyon aspect ratio of one for two clear summer days that differ in atmospheric instability. A detailed building energy model with a three-dimensional raster-type geometry—Temperature of Urban Facets Indoor-Outdoor Building Energy Simulator (TUF-IOBES)—provides urban surface heat fluxes as thermal boundary conditions for PALM. In vertical cross-sections at the centre of the spanwise canyon the mechanical forcing and the horizontal streamwise thermal forcing at roof level outweigh the thermal forces from the heated surfaces inside the canyon in defining the general flow pattern throughout the day. This results in a dominant canyon vortex with a persistent speed, centered at a constant height. Compared to neutral simulations, non-uniform heating of the urban canyon surfaces significantly modifies the pressure field and turbulence statistics in street canyons. Strong horizontal pressure gradients were detected in streamwise and spanwise canyons throughout the day, and which motivate larger turbulent velocity fluctuations in the horizontal directions rather than in the vertical direction. Canyon-averaged turbulent kinetic energy in all non-neutral simulations exhibits a diurnal cycle following the insolation on the ground in both spanwise and streamwise canyons, and it is larger when the canopy bottom surface is paved with darker materials and the ground surface temperature is higher as a result. Compared to uniformly distributed thermal forcing on urban surfaces, the present analysis shows that realistic non-uniform thermal forcing can result in complex local airflow patterns, as evident, for example, from the location of the vortices in horizontal planes in the spanwise canyon. This study shows the importance of three-dimensional simulations with detailed thermal boundary conditions to explore the heat and mass transport in an urban area.


Diurnal Cycle Heterogeneous thermal forcing Large-eddy simulation Urban canyon 



We would like to acknowledge the National Science Foundation CBET CAREER award 0847054 and high-performance computing support from Yellowstone (ark:/85065/d7wd3xhc) provided by NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neda Yaghoobian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jan Kleissl
    • 1
  • Kyaw Tha Paw U
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Land, Air, and Water ResourcesUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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