Observed and modeled near-wake flow behind a solitary tree

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This study reports simultaneous measurements of wind at single point positions up- and downstream of a tree and a numerical experiment with the aim of quantifying the interaction of a solitary tree and the wind field. Relative to the inflow velocity, the velocity deficit in the wake of the tree showed strong seasonal dependence, with wake velocities changing between 70% and 10% of the upstream value from no-leaf winter conditions to full-leaf summer conditions. Whereas for the winter tree the turbulence intensity in the wake is everywhere reduced relative to the upwind flow, for the summer tree the turbulent intensity is markedly reduced in the inner wake, but increased in the outer wake.

For the numerical experiment, the combination of (i) a high-detail tree model, based on terrestrial lidar scanning, and (ii) observations of the total bending moment on the tree, taken from strain gauges mounted on the stem, provided the tree parameterization. By this approach, the drag coefficient is not calibrated to fit the observed wind speed in the wake, but the total observed bending moment. Mean wind speed observations in the wake of both the winter and summer tree were well reproduced by the model with mean absolute errors lower than or equal to 5% throughout the wake transect. Also the turbulence intensity in the wake were well reproduced for the summer tree, whereas it was overestimated for the winter tree. Effects of changing tree model and grid resolution are demonstrated and discussed. Based on the presented findings, we recommend to estimate the total bending moment (or drag force) on modelled trees to ensure transferability of results between different numerical setups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-87
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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