Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 105–114 | Cite as

A Numerical Study of Airflow and Pollutant Dispersion Inside an Urban Street Canyon Containing an Elevated Expressway

  • Yuandong HuangEmail author
  • Zhonghua Zhou


The goal of this study is to investigate numerically the wind flow and pollutant dispersion within an urban street canyon containing an elevated expressway and reveal the impacts of elevated expressway on the atmospheric environment in the canyon. A two-dimensional numerical model for simulating airflow and pollutant dispersion inside urban street canyons is first developed based on the Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations coupled with the standard k − ε turbulence model and the convection–diffusion equation for passive species transport, and then it is validated against a wind tunnel experiment. It was found that the model-predicted results agree well with the experimental data. Having established this, the wind fields and pollutant distributions in the canyon containing an elevated expressway are evaluated. The numerical results show that the expressway height above the street floor and the gap distance between the expressway and the building wall have considerable influence on airflow and pollutant level inside a canyon: (1) the vortical flow structure in the canyon varies with the expressway height for a constant gap distance, under certain expressway heights, only one main clockwise vortex is formed, while under others one main vortex as well as one or two secondary vortices above and below the expressway are created; (2) the pollutant level within the canyon increases when an expressway is placed in the canyon, especially when the expressway height equals the building height the flow velocities in the canyon are drastically reduced and air exchange in and above the canyon is seriously impeded by the expressway, which leads to a much higher pollution level in the canyon; and (3) the wider gap distance is favorable to pollutant removal from the canyon.


Airflow Pollutant dispersion Urban street canyon Elevated expressway Numerical simulation 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 70371011), the Innovation Program of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (grant no. 10ZZ95), and Leading Academic Discipline Project of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (project number: J50502).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Shanghai for Science and technologyShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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