Large-Eddy Simulation of Coherent Turbulence Structures Associated with Scalar Ramps Over Plant Canopies
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Large-eddy simulations were performed of a neutrally-stratified turbulent flow within and above an ideal, horizontally- and vertically-homogeneous plant canopy. Three simulations were performed for shear-driven flows in small and large computational domains, and a pressure-driven flow in a small domain, to enable the nature of canopy turbulence unaffected by external conditions to be captured. The simulations reproduced quite realistic canopy turbulence characteristics, including typical ramp structures appearing in time traces of the scalar concentration near the canopy top. Then, the spatial structure of the organised turbulence that caused the scalar ramps was examined using conditional sampling of three-dimensional instantaneous fields, triggered by the occurrence of ramp structures. A wavelet transform was used for the detection of ramp structures in the time traces. The ensemble-averaged results illustrate that the scalar ramps are associated with the microfrontal structure in the scalar, the ejection-sweep structure in the streamwise and vertical velocities, a laterally divergent flow just around the ramp-detection point, and a positive, vertically-coherent pressure perturbation. These vertical structures were consistent with previous measurements made in fields or wind tunnels. However, the most striking feature is that the horizontal slice of the same structure revealed a streamwise-elongated region of high-speed streamwise velocity impacting on another elongated region of low-speed velocity. These elongated structures resemble the so-called streak structures that are commonly observed in near-wall shear layers. Since elongated structures of essentially similar spatial scales were observed in all of the runs, these streak structures appear to be inherent in near-canopy turbulence. Presumably, strong wind shear formed just above the canopy is involved in their formation. By synthesis of the ensemble-averaged and instantaneous results, the following processes were inferred for the development of scalar microfronts and their associated flow structures: (1) a distinct scalar microfront develops where a coherent downdraft associated with a high-speed streak penetrates into the region of a low-speed streak; (2) a stagnation in flow between two streaks of different velocities builds up a vertically-coherent high-pressure region there; (3) the pressure gradients around the high-pressure region work to reduce the longitudinal variations in streamwise velocity and to enhance the laterally-divergent flow and lifted updrafts downstream of the microfront; (4) as the coherent mother downdraft impinges on the canopy, canopy-scale eddies are formed near the canopy top in a similar manner as observed in conventional mixing-layer turbulence.
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