Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 171, Issue 1, pp 1–29 | Cite as

A Study of the Spatial Variation of Vehicle-Induced Turbulence on Highways Using Measurements from a Mobile Platform

  • Stefan J. MillerEmail author
  • Mark Gordon
  • Ralf M. Staebler
  • Peter A. Taylor
Research Article


During July 2016, an on-road study was conducted in and around the Toronto, Canada region to investigate the spatial variation of vehicle-induced turbulence on highways. The power spectral density of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) while following on-road vehicles is significantly enhanced for frequencies greater than 0.5 Hz. This increase is not present while driving isolated from traffic, demonstrating that TKE is enhanced considerably on highways in the presence of vehicles. The magnitude of normalized TKE is found to decay following a power-law relationship with increasing normalized distance behind on-road vehicles, which is most pronounced behind heavy-duty trucks. The results suggest that the TKE in the vehicle wake is maximized in the upper shear layer near the vehicle top. An extended parametrization is outlined that describes the total on-road TKE enhancement due to a composition of vehicles, which includes a vertical dependence on the magnitude of TKE.


Highway meteorology Turbulent kinetic energy Vehicle-induced turbulence Vehicle wake 



We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful and valuable comments. We thank Sepehr Fathi and Zheng Qi Wang for assisting with the measurement acquisition (as drivers in this experiment) and Brandon Loy for his assistance during the assembly process of the mobile laboratory. Funding support for Stefan J. Miller was provided by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program in collaboration with the Integrating Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics from Earth to Space (IACPES) program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan J. Miller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Gordon
    • 1
  • Ralf M. Staebler
    • 2
  • Peter A. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Space Science and EngineeringYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Air Quality Processes Research Section, Air Quality Research Division, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology BranchEnvironment and Climate Change CanadaTorontoCanada

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