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Wind sheltering of lakes and wetlands: the effect of stability on turbulent canopy wakes and evaporation


Topographic features and heterogeneous vegetation cover of the landscape, as well as atmospheric stability present significant challenges for predicting fluxes of momentum, heat, moisture, and climate-controlling trace gases across land and water surfaces from and into the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). Changes in landscape roughness and boundary layer separation in the wake of canopies, buildings and large-scale topographic obstructions contribute to these challenges. The particular case of a canopy edge at the shoreline of a lake or wetland is known to significantly reduce momentum transport to the surface of these water bodies, especially if they are of small size. The wind sheltering effect of canopies must be considered to predict surface layer mixing as well as mass transfer at the air-water interface, but few studies have addressed how canopy heterogeneity affects the ABL. Finding ideal field cases, and uncertainty in numerical approaches to high Reynolds number simulation of separated flows within the ABL have been major obstacles. Atmospheric stability can also affect sheltering due to the suppression of turbulence, potentially decreasing surface flux. The effect of atmospheric stability is of particular interest because it poses significant challenges for subgrid-scale models in large-eddy simulations. Wind tunnel experiments provide an ideal environment to simulate a stationary stable boundary layer and test how the ABL adjusts across the transition from a canopy to a lake. We conducted experiments in the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory thermally stratified boundary layer wind tunnel to determine the effects of atmospheric stability on the boundary layer evolution in the wake of a homogeneous (2h x 1v) canopy patch over a smooth flat surface. We applied the findings to investigate the potential effect on wind sheltering of lakes. We compared results from PIV and custom x-wire/cold-wire anemometry for stable and neutral conditions and find marked differences in the morphology of the flow, including the size of the separation region, as well as in turbulence quantities. We consider these differences to determine the variability of evaporation rates for wind-sheltered water bodies.