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Scaling and dynamics of turbulence over sparseA canopies

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Sharma, A 
García-Mayoral, R 


Turbulent flows within and over sparse canopies are investigated using direct numerical simulations. We focus on the effect of the canopy on the background turbulence, the part of the flow that remains once the element-induced flow is filtered out. In channel flows, the distribution of the total stress is linear with height. Over smooth walls, the total stress is only the `fluid stress' τf, the sum of the viscous and the Reynolds shear stresses. In canopies, in turn, there is an additional contribution from the canopy drag, which can dominate within. We find that, for sparse canopies, the ratio of the viscous and the Reynolds shear stresses in τf at each height is similar to that over smooth-walls, even within the canopy. From this, a height-dependent scaling based on τf is proposed. Using this scaling, the background turbulence within the canopy shows similarities with turbulence over smooth walls. This suggests that the background turbulence scales with τf, rather than with the conventional scaling based on the total stress. This effect is essentially captured when the canopy is substituted by a drag force that acts on the mean velocity profile alone, aiming to produce the correct τf, without the discrete presence of the canopy elements acting directly on the fluctuations. The proposed mean-only forcing is shown to produce better estimates for the turbulent fluctuations compared to a conventional, homogeneous-drag model. The present results thus suggest that a sparse canopy acts on the background turbulence primarily through the change it induces on the mean velocity profile, which in turn sets the scale for turbulence, rather than through a direct interaction of the canopy elements with the fluctuations. The effect of the element-induced flow, however, requires the representation of the individual canopy elements.



turbulent boundary layers

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)


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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P020259/1)
Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust PRACE DECI-15 European Research Council