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Large-Eddy Simulation Study of the Effects on Flow of a Heterogeneous Forest at Sub-Tree Resolution

Abstract

The effect of three-dimensional plant heterogeneity on flow past a clearing is investigated by means of large-eddy simulation. A detailed representation of the canopy has been acquired by terrestrial laser scanning for a patch of approximately \(328\,\mathrm {m}\) length and \(172\,\mathrm {m}\) width at the field site “Tharandter Wald”, near the city of Dresden, Germany. The scanning data are used to produce a highly resolved, three-dimensional plant area distribution representing the actual canopy. Hence, the vegetation maintains a rich horizontal and vertical structure including the three-dimensional clearing. The scanned plant area density is embedded in a larger domain, which is filled with a heterogeneous forest generated by the virtual canopy generator of Bohrer et al. (Tellus B 59:566–576, 2007). Based on forest inventory maps and airborne laser scanning, the characteristics of the actual canopy are preserved. Furthermore, the topography is extracted from a digital terrain model with some modifications to accommodate for periodic boundary conditions. A large-eddy simulation is performed for neutral atmospheric conditions and compared to simulations of a two-dimensional plant area density and an one-year-long field experiment conducted at the corresponding field site. The results reveal a considerable influence of the plant heterogeneity on the mean velocity field as well as on the turbulent quantities. The three-dimensional environment, e.g., the oblique edges combined with horizontal and vertical variations in plant area density and the topography create a sustained vertical and cross-flow velocity. Downstream of the windward forest edge an enhanced gust zone develops, whose intensity and relative position are influenced by the local canopy density and, therefore, is not constant along the edge. These results lead us to the conclusion that the usage of a three-dimensional plant area distribution is essential for capturing the flow features inside the canopy and within the mixing layer above.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A voxel is the three-dimensional equivalent of a pixel, i.e., a rectangular volume element with its faces aligned parallel to the coordinate axes.

  2. 2.

    ATKIS®-DGM2 is provided by Staatsbetrieb Geobasisinformation und Vermessung Sachsen (www.landesvermessung.sachsen.de).

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Acknowledgments

The work was supported by the German National Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) within the project “Turbulent Exchange Processes between Forested Areas and the Atmosphere” as a part of the DFG priority programme 1276 MetStröm: Multiple Scales in Fluid Mechanics and Meteorology. Computational facilities were provided by the Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing (ZIH) of the Technische Universität Dresden. We gratefully acknowledge Gil Bohrer at the Ohio State University, USA for his comments and his help on the adaptation of the virtual canopy generator. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments significantly improved the quality of the article.

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Schlegel, F., Stiller, J., Bienert, A. et al. Large-Eddy Simulation Study of the Effects on Flow of a Heterogeneous Forest at Sub-Tree Resolution. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 154, 27–56 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10546-014-9962-y

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Keywords

  • Edge flow
  • Forest canopy
  • Heterogeneous vegetation
  • Large-eddy simulation
  • Terrestrial laser scanning
  • Turbulence