Statistical analysis of the organized turbulence structure in the inertial and roughness sublayers over real urban area by building-resolved large-eddy simulation

Lan Yao, Chun Ho Liu, Ziwei Mo, Wai Chi Cheng, Guy P. Brasseur, Christopher Y.H. Chao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Dynamics and organized turbulence structure in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over a real urban area, Mong Kok neighborhood in Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong, is investigated using the large-eddy simulation (LES) to enrich the transport mechanism. The urban morphology is explicitly resolved and the LES results are validated by wind tunnel measurements. Wind speed <u‾>/U profiles manifest the inflections and zero-plane displacement d for 2 to 3 times the average building height Have, signifying higher blockage (stronger shear) than idealized geometries. The enhanced mixing induced by real urban morphology leads to faster, more uniform flows in the roughness sublayer (RSL) than those extrapolated from the inertial sublayer (ISL) by the conventional logarithmic law-of-the-wall (log-law). Higher-order moments signify that RSLs and ISLs feature, respectively, tiny, accelerating, spurlike downdraft (skewness Su > 0 and Sw < 0) and frequent, decelerating, bulky updraft (Su < 0 and Sw > 0). Besides, quadrant analysis shows that RSL ejection Q2 (u" < 0 and w" > 0) occurs more frequently (but contributes less to momentum flux <u"w">) than does sweep Q4 (u" > 0 and w" < 0). Conditional sampling further demonstrates that RSL (ISL) consists of majority large-scale Q4 (Q2) and small-scale Q2 (Q4). Comparing both the occurrence Ti,η of and contribution Si,η from Q2 and Q4 contrasts their roles in the transport process. The motion scale η (around 4 times of the average momentum flux) differentiates the dominance between Q2 and Q4 over a real, dense city, improving the fundamental understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108464
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Atmospheric flows
  • Conditional sampling
  • Inertial sublayer (ISL)
  • Real urban morphology
  • Roughness sublayer (RSL) and quadrant analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

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