Journal article

A comparative quadrant analysis of turbulence in a plant canopy

Large-eddy simulation (LES) of turbulence in plant canopies has traditionally been validated using bulk statistical quantities such as mean velocity and variance profiles. However, turbulent exchanges between a plant canopy and the atmosphere are dominated by large-scale coherent structures, and therefore LES must also be validated using statistical tools that are sensitive to details of coherent structures. In this study, LES and measurements using particle image velocimetry (PIV) are compared near the top of the canopy by means of a quadrant-hole analysis of turbulent kinetic energy, vorticity, and dissipation rate. The LES resolves coarse features of individual corn plants and uses the Lagrangian scale-dependent dynamic subgrid model. At the measurement location, there is good agreement between the LES predictions and the field data in terms of most conditionally sampled quantities, confirming the applicability of LES for fundamental studies of vegetation-air interactions and coherent structures. The simulation results confirm that sweeps (the fourth-quadrant events) contribute the largest fraction of turbulent kinetic energy, vorticity, and dissipation rate inside the plant canopy. The magnitudes of the vorticity and dissipation rate at the top of the canopy are highest in the first quadrant (rare events of outward interactions).

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