Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 8, pp 3051–3068 | Cite as

Wind-Induced Air-Flow Patterns in an Urban Setting: Observations and Numerical Modeling

  • Ahmed M. A. Sattar
  • Mohamed Elhakeem
  • Bishoy N. Gerges
  • Bahram Gharabaghi
  • Ismail Gultepe


City planning can have a significant effect on wind flow velocity patterns and thus natural ventilation. Buildings with different heights are roughness elements that can affect the near- and far-field wind flow velocity. This paper aims at investigating the impact of an increase in building height on the nearby velocity fields. A prototype urban setting of buildings with two different heights (25 and 62.5 cm) is built up and placed in a wind tunnel. Wind flow velocity around the buildings is mapped at different heights. Wind tunnel measurements are used to validate a 3D-numerical Reynolds averaged Naviers–Stokes model. The validated model is further used to calculate the wind flow velocity patterns for cases with different building heights. It was found that increasing the height of some buildings in an urban setting can lead to the formation of large horseshoe vortices and eddies around building corners. A separation area is formed at the leeward side of the building, and the recirculation of air behind the building leads to the formation of slow rotation vortices. The opposite effect is observed in the wake (cavity) region of the buildings, where both the cavity length and width are significantly reduced, and this resulted in a pronounced increase in the wind flow velocity. A significant increase in the wind flow velocity in the wake region of tall buildings with a value of up to 30% is observed. The spatially averaged velocities around short buildings also increased by 25% compared to those around buildings with different heights. The increase in the height of some buildings is found to have a positive effect on the wind ventilation at the pedestrian level.


Computational fluid dynamics wind flow in an urban area numerical model wake region horseshoe vortex wind tunnel natural ventilation 



This study was funded by Abu Dhabi University’s Center of Excellence of Sustainable Built Environment and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (Contract No. 1930079).


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Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed M. A. Sattar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mohamed Elhakeem
    • 3
  • Bishoy N. Gerges
    • 4
  • Bahram Gharabaghi
    • 5
  • Ismail Gultepe
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Irrigation and Hydraulics, Faculty of EngineeringCairo UniversityGizaEgypt
  2. 2.German University in CairoCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringAbu Dhabi UniversityAbu DhabiUAE
  4. 4.Civil Engineering ProgramGerman University in CairoCairoEgypt
  5. 5.School of EngineeringUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  6. 6.Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Res Section, Meteorological Research DivisionEnvironment and Climate Change of Canada/Government of CanadaTorontoCanada
  7. 7.Department of Engineering and Applied SciencesUOITOshawaCanada

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