Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 170, Issue 2, pp 205–234 | Cite as

The Atmospheric Boundary Layer Over Urban-Like Terrain: Influence of the Plan Density on Roughness Sublayer Dynamics

  • Laurent PerretEmail author
  • Jérémy Basley
  • Romain Mathis
  • Thibaud Piquet
Research Article


We investigate the effect of the packing density of cubical roughness elements on the characteristics of both the roughness sublayer and the overlying turbulent boundary layer, in the context of atmospheric flow over urban areas. This is based on detailed wind-tunnel hot-wire measurements of the streamwise velocity component with three wall-roughness configurations and two freestream flow speeds. The packing densities are chosen so as to obtain the three near-wall flow regimes observed in urban canopy flows, namely isolated-wake, wake-interference and skimming-flow regimes. Investigation of the wall-normal profiles of the one-point statistics up to third order demonstrates the impossibility of finding a unique set of parameters enabling the collapse of all configurations, except for the mean streamwise velocity component. However, spectral analysis of the streamwise velocity component provides insightful information. Using the temporal frequency corresponding to the peak in the pre-multiplied energy spectrum as an indicator of the most energetic flow structures at each wall-normal location, it is shown that three main regions exist, in which different scaling applies. Finally, scale decomposition reveals that the flow in the roughness sublayer results from a large-scale intrinsic component of the boundary layer combined with canopy-induced dynamics. Their relative importance plays a key role in the energy distribution and influences the near-canopy flow regime and its dynamics, therefore suggesting complex interactions between the near-wall scales and those from the overlying boundary layer.


Atmospheric boundary layer Hot-wire anemometry Roughness sublayer Urban canopy Wind tunnel 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of the French National Research Agency through the research Grant URBANTURB ANR-14-CE22-0012-01.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Perret
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jérémy Basley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Romain Mathis
    • 3
  • Thibaud Piquet
    • 1
  1. 1.LHEEA, UMR CNRS 6598, Centrale NantesNantesFrance
  2. 2.Department of AeronauticsImperial College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse, IMFTUniversité de Toulouse, CNRSToulouseFrance

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