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Quantifying inflow uncertainties for CFD simulations of the flow in downtown Oklahoma City

Garcia-Sanchez, C., Philips, D. A., & Gorle, C. (2014). Quantifying inflow uncertainties for CFD simulations of the flow in downtown Oklahoma City. BUILDING AND ENVIRONMENT, 78, 118–129.


Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) methods are widely used to investigate wind flow and dispersion in urban environments. Validation with field experiments that represent the full complexity of the problem should be performed to assess the predictive capabilities of the computations. In this context it will be necessary to quantify the effect of uncertainties in simulations of the full-scale problem. The present study aims at quantifying the uncertainty related to the variability in the inflow boundary conditions for Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) simulations of the flow in downtown Oklahoma City to address validation with the Joint Urban 2003 field measurements. Three uncertain inflow parameters were defined: the wind speed and wind direction at a reference height, and the aerodynamic roughness in the logarithmic velocity inlet profile. An ensemble of 729 RANS simulations were performed to determine the polynomial chaos expansion coefficients that define the response surfaces for the velocity magnitude and direction at 13 field measurement stations, and the results are compared to the experimental data. For the velocity magnitude the mean experimental velocity magnitude is encompassed within the 95% confidence interval for the magnitudes predicted by the Uncertainty Quantification study in all stations. For the velocity direction this holds in 11 out of 13 locations. The study demonstrates the significant potential of applying advanced uncertainty quantification methods to address validation with field measurements and to develop a more realistic approach to the definition of inflow boundary conditions in atmospheric CFD simulations.