Wave damping by flexible vegetation: Connecting individual blade dynamics to the meadow scale
Author(s)Lei, Jiarui; Nepf, Heidi
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Aquatic vegetation provides ecosystem services of great value, including the damping of waves, which protects shorelines and reduces resuspension. This study proposes a physically-based model to predict the wave decay associated with a submerged meadow as a function of plant morphology, flexibility, and shoot density. In particular, the study considers both the rigid (sheath) and flexible (blade) segments of the plant. Flexible plants reconfigure in response to wave orbital velocity, which diminishes wave decay relative to a rigid plant of the same morphology. The impact of reconfiguration on wave decay can be characterized using an effective blade length, l e , which represents the length of a rigid blade that generates the same drag as the flexible blade of length l. The effective blade length depends on the Cauchy number, which defines the ratio of hydrodynamic drag to blade stiffness, and the ratio of blade length to wave orbital excursion. This laboratory study considered how the scaling laws determined for individual blades can be used to predict the wave decay over a meadow of multiple plants, each consisting of multiple blades attached at a rigid stem (sheath). First, the drag force on and motion of individual model blades (made of low-density polyethylene) was studied for a range of wave conditions to provide empirical coefficients for the theoretically determined scaling laws for effective blade length, l e . Second, the effective blade length predicted for individual blades was incorporated into a meadow-scale model to predict wave decay over a meadow. The meadow-scale model accounts for both the rigid and flexible parts of individual plants. Finally, wave decay was measured over meadows of different plant density (shoots per bed area), and the measured decay was used to validate the wave-decay model. Wave decay was shown to be similar over meadows with regular and random arrangements of plants.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lei, Jiarui and Heidi Nepf. "Wave damping by flexible vegetation: Connecting individual blade dynamics to the meadow scale." Coastal Engineering 147 (May 2019): 138-148 © 2019 The Author(s)
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