Abstract This paper investigates the snowdrifts caused by lightweight fences along the lines on the flatland through the computational fluid dynamics method. The characteristic ambient flows around the solid fences and the porous fences with varied heights and bottom wind gaps are simulated in the numerical model, and the working mechanism of "interception" and "scouring" of the lightweight fences are analyzed. Based on the friction velocities near the ground, two sets of criteria are proposed to evaluate the deposition and erosion effects of different fences. According to flow separation and reattachment, the simplified relationships between the most likely positions for snow accumulations and fence parameters are developed. The study indicates that the capabilities for snow interception by the solid fence without wind gap and the distance from which to the second snow coverage center both increase with the fence height. Furthermore, it is found that the scouring range for snow surface increases significantly with the size of wind gap, and the snow accumulation rate on the leeward side decreases with the increasing fence porosity.
The authors are grateful for the supports of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51525804), the Sichuan Province Youth Science and Technology Innovation Team (No. 2015TD0004), and the Construction Technology Project of China Transport Ministry (No. 2014318800240).