28 Dec 2020

28 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

The motion of trees in the wind: a data synthesis

Toby D. Jackson1, Sarab Sethi2, Ebba Dellwik3, Nikolas Angelou3, Amanda Bunce4, Tim van Emmerik5, Marine Duperat6, Jean-Claude Ruel6, Axel Wellpott7, Skip Van Bloem8, Alexis Achim9, Brian Kane10, Dominick M. Ciruzzi11, Steven P. Loheide II11, Ken James12, Daniel Burcham13, John Moore14, Dirk Schindler15, Sven Kolbe15, Kilian Wiegmann16, Mark Rudnicki17, Victor J. Lieffers18, John Selker19, Andrew V. Gougherty20, Tim Newson21, Andrew Koeser22,23, Jason Miesbauer24, Roger Samelson25, Jim Wagner26, David Coomes1, and Barry Gardiner27 Toby D. Jackson et al.
  • 1Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK
  • 2Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, UK
  • 3Department of Wind Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Frederiksborgvej 399, Roskilde, 4000, Denmark
  • 4Department of Natural Resources, University of Connecticut, Mansfield, CT 06269, USA
  • 5Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 6Department of Wood and Forest Sciences, Laval University, Quebec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 7Bavarian State Institute of Forestry (LWF), Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 1, D-85354 Freising
  • 8Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson University, PO Box 596, Georgetown, SC 29442, USA
  • 9Centre de recherche sur les matériaux renouvelables, Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 10Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
  • 11Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI
  • 12School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 13Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board, 259569 Singapore
  • 14Timberlands Ltd., Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
  • 15Environmental Meteorology, University of Freiburg, Germany
  • 16Argus Electronics gmbh, Erich-Schlesinger-Str. 49d, 18059 Rostock
  • 17College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931 USA
  • 18Renewable Resources Dept, University of Alberta, USA
  • 19Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 20Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • 21Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Western University, Canada
  • 22Department of Environmental Horticulture, IFAS, University of Florida
  • 23Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Wimauma, FL 33598, United States
  • 24The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL 60532, USA
  • 25College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR 97331 USA
  • 26Oregon Research Electronics, Tangent, OR 97389, USA
  • 27Institut Européen de la Forêt Cultivée, 69 route d’Arcachon, 33612, Cestas, France

Abstract. 1. Interactions between wind and trees control energy exchanges between the atmosphere and forest canopies. This energy exchange can lead to the widespread damage of trees and wind is a key disturbance agent in many of the world’s forests. However, most research on this topic has focused on conifer plantations, where risk management is economically important, rather than broadleaf forests, which dominate the forest carbon cycle. This study brings together all available tree motion time-series data to systematically evaluate the factors influencing tree responses to wind loading, including data from both broadleaf and coniferous trees in forests and open environments.

2. We found that the two most descriptive features of tree motion were: (a) the fundamental frequency, which is a measure of the speed at which a tree sways and is strongly related to tree height, and (b) the slope of the power spectrum, which is related to the efficiency of energy transfer from wind to trees. Intriguingly, the slope of the power spectrum was found to remain constant from medium to high wind speeds for all trees in this study. This suggests that, contrary to some predictions, damping or amplification mechanisms do not change dramatically at high wind speeds and therefore wind damage risk is related, relatively simply, to wind speed.

3. Conifers from forests were distinct from broadleaves in terms of their response to wind loading. Specifically, the fundamental frequency of forest conifers was related to their size according to the cantilever beam model (i.e. vertically distributed mass), whereas broadleaves were better approximated by the simple pendulum model (i.e. dominated by the crown). Forest conifers also had a steeper slope of the power spectrum. We interpret these finding as being strongly related to tree architecture, i.e. conifers generally have a simple shape due to their apical dominance, whereas broadleaves exhibit a much wider range of architectures with more dominant crowns.

Toby D. Jackson et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Toby D. Jackson et al.

Data sets

Singapore tree motion data Daniel Burcham

Montmorency tree motion data Marine Duperat and Jean-Claude Ruel

Manaus tree motion data Tim van Emmerik

Wytham Woods tree motion data Toby Jackson

Danum Valley tree motion data Toby Jackson

Model code and software

Tree Motion - code and summary data to reproduce the results Toby D. Jackson

Toby D. Jackson et al.


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Short summary
The motion of trees in the wind is related to wind damage risk and surface-atmosphere energy exchange. We collated all tree motion data and summarized the main patterns. We confirmed that the fundamental frequency of tree sway is related to tree height. We found that the motion of trees in conifer forests, the most studied system, is somewhat distinct from that of open-grown trees and broadleaf forests. We also found that no additional damping or amplification process emerge at high wind speeds.