Journal article

Augmenting simulations of airflow around buildings using field measurements

Computational fluid-dynamics (CFD) simulations have become an important tool for the assessment of airflow in urban areas. However, large discrepancies may appear when simulated predictions are compared with field measurements because of the complexity of airflow behaviour around buildings and difficulties in defining correct sets of parameter values, including those for inlet conditions. Inlet conditions of the CFD model are difficult to estimate and often the values employed do not represent real conditions. In this paper, a model-based data-interpretation framework is proposed in order to integrate knowledge obtained through CFD simulations with those obtained from field measurements carried out in the urban canopy layer (UCL). In this framework, probability-based inlet conditions of the CFD simulation are identified with measurements taken in the UCL. The framework is built on the error-domain model falsification approach that has been developed for the identification of other complex systems. System identification of physics-based models is a challenging task because of the presence of errors in models as well as measurements. This paper presents a methodology to estimate modelling errors. Furthermore, error-domain model falsification has been adapted for the application of airflow modelling around buildings in order to accommodate the time variability of atmospheric conditions. As a case study, the framework is tested and validated for the predictions of airflow around an experimental facility of the Future Cities Laboratory, called “BubbleZERO”. Results show that the framework is capable of narrowing down parameter-value sets from over five hundred to a few having possible inlet conditions for the selected case-study. Thus the case-study illustrates an approach to identifying time-varying inlet conditions and predicting wind characteristics at locations where there are no sensors.


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