Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, 130:307 | Cite as

The Effects of Thermal Stratification on Clustering Properties of Canopy Turbulence

Original Paper


The intermittent structure of turbulence within the canopy sublayer (CSL) is sensitive to the presence of foliage and to the atmospheric stability regime. How much of this intermittency originates from amplitude variability or clustering properties remains a vexing research problem for CSL flows. Using a five-level set of measurements collected within a dense hardwood canopy, the clustering properties of CSL turbulence and their dependence on atmospheric stability are explored using the telegraphic approximation (TA). The binary structure of the TA removes any amplitude variability from turbulent excursions but retains their zero-crossing behaviour, and thereby isolating the role of clustering in intermittency. A relationship between the spectral exponents of the actual and the TA series is derived across a wide range of atmospheric stability regimes and for several flow variables. This relationship is shown to be consistent with a relationship derived for long-memory and monofractal processes such as fractional Brownian motion (fBm). Moreover, it is demonstrated that for the longitudinal and vertical velocity components, the vegetation does not appreciably alter fine-scale clustering but atmospheric stability does. Stable atmospheric stability conditions is characterized by more fine scale clustering when compared to other atmospheric stability regimes. For scalars, fine-scale clustering above the canopy is similar to its velocity counterpart but is significantly increased inside the canopy, especially under stable stratification. Using simplified scaling analysis, it is demonstrated that clustering is much more connected to space than to time within the CSL. When comparing intermittency for flow variables and their TA series, it is shown that for velocity, amplitude variations modulate intermittency for all stability regimes. However, amplitude variations play only a minor role in scalar intermittency. Within the crown region of the canopy, a ‘double regime’ emerges in the inter-pulse duration probability distributions not observed in classical turbulence studies away from boundaries. The double regime is characterized by a power-law distribution for shorter inter-pulse periods and a log-normal distribution for large inter-pulse periods. The co-existence of these two regimes is shown to be consistent with near-field/far-field scaling arguments. In the near-field, short inter-pulse periods are controlled by the source strength, while in the far-field long inter-pulse periods are less affected by the precise source strength details and more affected by the transport properties of the background turbulence.


Atmospheric stability regimes Canopy sublayer turbulence Clustering Intermittency Inter-pulse distribution Telegraphic approximation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR - Institute of Atmosphere Sciences and ClimateNational Research Council (CNR)LecceItaly
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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