Large-eddy simulation of turbulence and particle dispersion inside the canopy roughness sublayer

Ying Pan, Marcelo Chamecki, Scott A. Isard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Modelling the dispersion of small particles such as fungal spores, pollens and small seeds inside and above plant canopies is important for many applications. Transport of these particles is driven by strongly inhomogeneous and non-Gaussian turbulent flows inside the canopy roughness sublayer, the region that extends from the ground to approximately three canopy heights. A large-eddy simulation (LES) approach is refined to study particle dispersion within and above the canopy region. Effects of plant reconfiguration are parameterized through a velocity-dependent drag coefficient, which is shown to be critical for accurate reproduction of velocity statistics and mean spore concentrations. The model yields predictions of turbulence statistics that are in good agreement with measurements. This is particularly true of the stress fractions carried by strong events, as revealed by standard quadrant analysis of the resolved velocity fluctuations, which is a known weakness of earlier LES studies of canopy flow using a constant drag coefficient. Experimental data on spore dispersal inside and above a maize canopy are reproduced successfully as well. Characteristics of the particle plume are analysed using LES results, and a pre-existing theoretical framework is adapted to model particle dispersal above the canopy. The results suggest that the plume above the canopy can be approximated using a simple analytical solution if the fraction of spores that escape the canopy region is known. Source height and gravitational settling have strong effects on the plume inside the canopy region and consequently determine the escape fraction. These effects are parameterized in the theoretical model by using the escape fraction to rescale the source strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-534
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 22 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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