Experimental Investigation of the Aerodynamic Roughness Length for Flexible Plants

  • Liqiang KangEmail author
  • Junjie Zhang
  • Xueyong Zou
  • Hong Cheng
  • Chunlai Zhang
  • Zhicheng Yang
Research Article


The aerodynamic roughness length z0 is modelled as a function of the zero-plane displacement d, plant drag coefficient CdR, the ratio β of the drag coefficient for an isolated roughness element and the surface drag coefficient, and the lateral cover λ. The model is investigated using wind-tunnel experiments on a ground surface covered by artificial plastic flexible plants of very small basal-to-frontal area ratios (0.001–0.007). The plant drag coefficient at different plant densities is inferred from measurements of the total shear stress and the average surface shear stress for five plant heights at four plant densities. The aerodynamic roughness length and zero-plane displacement are estimated by logarithmic regression of the measured velocity profile with a predetermined friction velocity. With the increase of lateral cover λ, the plant drag coefficient can be considered as a constant for λ < 0.01, and decreasing for λ > 0.01. With an increase in the friction velocity, the roughness length z0 generally decreases because of plant flexibility, while with increases in plant density and plant height, the value of z0 increases because the surface becomes physically rougher. Our model for the roughness length z0 is verified using experimental data for flow over flexible plants. Compared with rigid roughness elements, such as cylinders, cubes and blocks, the normalized roughness z0/h (where h is the plant height) for the flexible plants is smaller because of the porosity and the larger value of the ratio d/h.


Aerodynamic roughness length Drag coefficient Flexible plant Wind-tunnel experiment 



This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41871003 and 41630747).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Faculty of Geographical ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Engineering Center of Desertification and Blown-Sand Control of Ministry of Education, Faculty of Geographical ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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