Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 241–257 | Cite as

Spatial and Temporal Variability of the Concentration Field from Localized Releases in a Regular Building Array

  • E. V. Goulart
  • O. Coceal
  • S. Branford
  • T. G. Thomas
  • S. E. Belcher
Research Article


Spatial and temporal fluctuations in the concentration field from an ensemble of continuous point-source releases in a regular building array are analyzed from data generated by direct numerical simulations. The release is of a passive scalar under conditions of neutral stability. Results are related to the underlying flow structure by contrasting data for an imposed wind direction of \(0{^{\circ }}\) and \(45{^{\circ }}\) relative to the buildings. Furthermore, the effects of distance from the source and vicinity to the plume centreline on the spatial and temporal variability are documented. The general picture that emerges is that this particular geometry splits the flow domain into segments (e.g., “streets” and “intersections”) in each of which the air is, to a first approximation, well mixed. Notable exceptions to this general rule include regions close to the source, near the plume edge, and in unobstructed channels to which the flow is aligned. In the oblique (\(45{^{\circ }})\) case the strongly three-dimensional nature of the flow enhances mixing of a scalar within the canopy leading to reduced temporal and spatial concentration fluctuations within the plume core. These fluctuations are in general larger for the parallel flow (\(0{^{\circ }})\) case, especially so in the long unobstructed channels. Due to the more complex flow structure in the canyon-type streets behind buildings, fluctuations are lower than in the open channels, though still substantially larger than for oblique flow. These results are relevant to the formulation of simple models for dispersion in urban areas and to the quantification of the uncertainties in their predictions.


Concentration fluctuations Direct numerical simulation Urban dispersion 



Elisa V. Goulart’s PhD was funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Brazil. Simon Branford was supported by the University of Reading Research Endowment Trust Fund. Omduth Coceal gratefully acknowledges funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through their National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) under Grant no. R8/H12/83/002 and from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC contract number EP/K040707/1).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. V. Goulart
    • 1
    • 4
  • O. Coceal
    • 2
  • S. Branford
    • 1
  • T. G. Thomas
    • 3
  • S. E. Belcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  2. 2.Department of Meteorology, National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS)University of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Department of Environment EngineeringFederal University of Espírito SantoVitóriaBrazil

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