Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 447–460

The Spatio-temporal Statistical Structure and Ergodic Behaviour of Scalar Turbulence Within a Rod Canopy

  • Khaled Ghannam
  • Davide Poggi
  • Amilcare Porporato
  • Gabriel G. Katul


Connections between the spatial and temporal statistics of turbulent flow, and their possible convergence to ensemble statistics as assumed by the ergodic hypothesis, are explored for passive scalars within a rod canopy. While complete ergodicity is not expected to apply over all the spatial domain within such heterogeneous flows, the fact that canopy turbulence exhibits self-similar characteristics at a given depth within the canopy encourages a discussion on necessary conditions for an ‘operational’ ergodicity framework. Flows between roughness elements such as within canopies exhibit features that distinguish them from their well-studied classical boundary-layer counterparts. These differences are commonly attributed to short-circuiting of the energy cascade and the prevalence of intermittent von Kármán vortex streets in the deeper layers of the canopy. Using laser-induced fluorescence measurements at two different depths within a rod canopy situated in a large flume, the spatio-temporal statistical properties and concomitant necessary conditions for ergodicity of passive scalar turbulence statistics are evaluated. First, the integral time and length scales are analyzed and their corresponding maximum values are used to guide the construction of an ensemble of independent realizations from repeated spatio-temporal concentration measurements. As a statistical analysis for an operational ergodicity check, a Kolmogorov–Smirnov test on the distributions of temporal and spatial concentration series against the ensemble was conducted. The outcome of this test reveals that ergodicity is reasonably valid over the entire domain except close to the rod elements where wake-induced inhomogeneities and damped turbulence prevail. The spatial concentration statistics within a grid-cell (square domain formed by four corner rods) appear to be less ergodic than their temporal counterparts, which is not surprising given the periodicity and persistence of von Kármán vortices in the flow field. Also, a local advection velocity of dominant eddies is inferred using lagged cross-correlations of scalar concentration time series at different spatial locations. The computed probability density function of this advection velocity agrees well with the laser Doppler anemometry measurements for the same rod canopy.


Canopy turbulence Ergodicity Integral scales  Scalar dispersion  von Kármán streets 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khaled Ghannam
    • 1
  • Davide Poggi
    • 2
  • Amilcare Porporato
    • 3
  • Gabriel G. Katul
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Idraulica, Trasporti ed Infrastrutture CivilePolitecnico di TorinoTurinItaly
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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