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A review of urban roughness sublayer turbulence

Barlow, J. and Coceal, O. ORCID:, (2008) A review of urban roughness sublayer turbulence. Technical Report. Met Office

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It is becoming increasingly important that we can understand and model flow processes in urban areas. Applications such as weather forecasting, air quality and sustainable urban development rely on accurate modelling of the interface between an urban surface and the atmosphere above. This review gives an overview of current understanding of turbulence generated by an urban surface up to a few building heights, the layer called the roughness sublayer (RSL). High quality datasets are also identified which can be used in the development of suitable parameterisations of the urban RSL. Datasets derived from physical and numerical modelling, and full-scale observations in urban areas now exist across a range of urban-type morphologies (e.g. street canyons, cubes, idealised and realistic building layouts). Results show that the urban RSL depth falls within 2 – 5 times mean building height and is not easily related to morphology. Systematic perturbations away from uniform layouts (e.g. varying building heights) have a significant impact on RSL structure and depth. Considerable fetch is required to develop an overlying inertial sublayer, where turbulence is more homogeneous, and some authors have suggested that the “patchiness” of urban areas may prevent inertial sublayers from developing at all. Turbulence statistics suggest similarities between vegetation and urban canopies but key differences are emerging. There is no consensus as to suitable scaling variables, e.g. friction velocity above canopy vs. square root of maximum Reynolds stress, mean vs. maximum building height. The review includes a summary of existing modelling practices and highlights research priorities.

Item Type:Report (Technical Report)
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:38572
Publisher:Met Office


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