The influence of a forest canopy on top-down and bottom-up diffusion in the planetary boundary layer

E. G. Patton, P. P. Sullivan, K. J. Davis

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54 Scopus citations


Results from two nested-grid large-eddy simulations comparing cases with and without a plant canopy are presented. Through comparisons of numerically generated mean and turbulence statistics, the influence of a plant canopy with a leaf area index of two is shown to modify the air flow compared with an identical case without plants. Investigations of instantaneous fields and spatial spectra show that a plant canopy alters the spatial structure of turbulence and acts to shift the dominant scale to a scale on the order of the canopy height. Distributed drag and scalar sources, representing the presence of a scalar emitting deciduous forest, have little influence on top-down diffusion, but enhanced mixing and increased turbulence intensities result in a dramatic modification to bottom-up scalar diffusion up to ∼4.5 times the height of the canopy. Use of previously proposed bottom-up gradient function with observations of scalar gradients under unstable stability conditions at 50 m over a 25 m tall forest (leaf area index of two) are shown to lead to an underestimate of the scalar emission flux by a factor of four. New top-down and bottom-up functions are proposed to include these canopy-induced effects for this particular canopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1434
Number of pages20
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number590 PART A
StatePublished - Apr 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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