Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Effects of sand-fixing and windbreak forests on wind flow: a synthesis of results from field experiments and numerical simulations

  • Kejie Zhan
  • Shizeng Liu
  • Zihui Yang
  • Etian Fang
  • Lanping Zhou
  • Ning HuangEmail author


Sand-fixing and windbreak forests are widely used to protect or/and improve the ecological environments in arid and semi-arid regions. A full understanding of wind flow characteristics is essential to arranging the patterns of these protective forests for enhancing the effectiveness. In this study, the wind velocity over the underlying surface with sand-fixing forests and windbreak forests at the heights of 1–49 m was monitored from two 50-m high observation towers in an oasis of Minqin, Gansu Province of China. The wind velocities were simulated at different locations over these protective forests between those two towers by a two-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model. The results showed that at the heights of 1–49 m, the wind velocity profiles followed a classical logarithm law at the edge of the oasis and a multilayer structure inside the oasis. With increasing number of sand-fixing forest and windbreak forest arrays, the wind velocity at the heights of 1–49 m generally decreased along the downstream direction of the prevailing wind. Specifically, below the height of windbreak forests, the wind velocity decelerates as the airflow approaches to the windbreak forests and then accelerates as the airflow passes over the windbreak forests. In contrast, above the height of windbreak forests, the wind velocity accelerates as the airflow approaches to the windbreak forests and then generally decelerates as the airflow passes over the windbreak forests. Both the array number and array spacing of sand-fixing and windbreak forests could influence the wind velocity. The wind protection effects of sand-fixing forests were closely related to the array spacing of windbreak forests and increased with the addition of sand-fixing forests when the array of the forests was adequately spaced. However, if the array spacing of windbreak forests was smaller than seven times of the heights of windbreak forests, the effects were reduced or completely masked by the effects of windbreak forests. The results could offer theoretical guidelines on how to systematically arrange the patterns of sand-fixing and windbreak forests for preventing wind erosion in the most convenient and the cheapest ways.


wind velocity sand-fixing forest windbreak forest computational simulation Minqin 


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This work was supported by the Forestry Industry Research Special Funds for Public Welfare Projects (201404306), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41371034, 41361001, 31560235), the National Key Technologies R & D Program of China (2013BAC07B01) and the Gansu Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholars (145RJDA327). The authors would like to give special thanks to the editors who contributed greatly to improving the English of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer - Verlag GmbH 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kejie Zhan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shizeng Liu
    • 2
  • Zihui Yang
    • 2
  • Etian Fang
    • 2
  • Lanping Zhou
    • 2
  • Ning Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Western Disaster and Environment in China (Ministry of Education), Department of MechanicsLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Minqin National Station for Desert Steppe Ecosystem StudiesMinqinChina

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