Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 397–416 | Cite as

Large-Eddy Simulation of Very-Large-Scale Motions in the Neutrally Stratified Atmospheric Boundary Layer

  • Jiannong Fang
  • Fernando Porté-Agel


Large-eddy simulation is used to investigate very-large-scale motions (VLSMs) in the neutrally stratified atmospheric boundary layer at a very high friction Reynolds number, \(Re{_{\tau }} \sim \mathcal {O}(10^{8})\). The vertical height of the computational domain is \(L_{z}=1000\) m, which corresponds to the thickness of the boundary layer. In order to make sure that the largest flow structures are properly resolved, the horizontal domain size is chosen to be \(L_{x}=32\pi L_{z}\) and \(L_{y}=4\pi L_{z}\), which is much larger than the standard domain size, especially in the streamwise direction (i.e., the direction of elongation of the flow structures). It is shown that the contributions to the resolved turbulent kinetic energy and the resolved shear stress from streamwise wavelengths larger than \(10 L_{z}\) are up to 27 and 31 % respectively. Therefore, the large computational domain adopted here is essential for the purpose of investigating VLSMs. The spatially coherent structures associated with VLSMs are characterized through flow visualization and statistical analysis. The instantaneous velocity fields in horizontal planes give evidence of streamwise-elongated flow structures of low-speed fluid with negative fluctuation of the streamwise velocity component, and which are flanked on either side by similarly elongated high-speed structures. The pre-multiplied power spectra and two-point correlations indicate that the scales of these streak-like structures are very large, up to \(20L_{z}\) in the streamwise direction and \(0.6 L_{z}\) in the spanwise direction. These features are similar to those found in the logarithmic and outer regions of laboratory-scale boundary layers by direct numerical simulation and experiments conducted at low to moderate Reynolds numbers. The three-dimensional correlation map and conditional average of the three components of velocity further indicate that the low-speed and high-speed regions possess the same elongated ellipsoid-like structure, which is inclined upward along the streamwise direction, and they are accompanied by counter-rotating roll modes in the cross-section perpendicular to the streamwise direction. These results are in agreement with recent observations in the atmospheric surface layer.


Large-eddy simulation Turbulent boundary layer Coherent structures Very-large-scale motions 



This work was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) under project ID s495. The authors also would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wind Engineering and Renewable Energy Laboratory (WIRE), Institute of Environmental Engineering (IIE), School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC)École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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