Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Large-eddy simulation of passive scalar dispersion in an urban-like canopy

D. A. Philipsa1 c1, R. Rossia2 and G. Iaccarinoa1

a1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 488 Escondido Mall, Building 02-500, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

a2 Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale, Universitá di Bologna, Viale Risorgimento 2, 40136 Bologna, Italy


Results from large-eddy simulations of short-range dispersion of a passive scalar from a point source release in an urban-like canopy are presented. The computational domain is that of a variable height array of buildings immersed in a pressure-driven, turbulent flow with a roughness Reynolds number . A comparative study of several cases shows the changes in plume behaviour for different mean flow directions and source locations. The analysis of the results focuses on utilizing the high-fidelity datasets to examine the three-dimensional flow field and scalar plume structure. The detailed solution of the flow and scalar fields within the canopy allows for a direct assessment of the impact of local features of the building array geometry. The staggered, skewed and aligned arrangements of the buildings with respect to the oncoming flow were shown to affect plume development. Additional post-processing quantified this development through parameters fundamental to reduced-order Gaussian dispersion models. The parameters include measures of concentration decay with distance from the source as well as plume trajectory and spread. The horizontal plume trajectory and width were found to be more sensitive to source location variations, and hence local geometric features, than vertical plume parameters.

(Received May 17 2012)

(Revised February 07 2013)

(Accepted March 03 2013)

(Online publication April 16 2013)

Key words

  • mixing and dispersion;
  • turbulence simulation;
  • turbulent mixing


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