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Simulating the interaction of seagrasses with their ambient flow

Backhaus, J.O. and Verduin, J.J. (2008) Simulating the interaction of seagrasses with their ambient flow. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 80 (4). pp. 563-572.

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The interaction of seagrasses with the dynamics of an oscillatory wave induced flow is assessed with a new Lagrangian plant model. The plant model simulates moving plants in canopies and their dissipative effect on the ambient flow. Concomitantly the plant model is interactively coupled to a 3D hydrodynamic numerical model allowing for a bilateral feedback between moving plants and flow. Model results demonstrate that this interaction causes a modification of current profiles within and above a canopy as compared to an undisturbed flow. While the overall effect of submerged plant canopies is a dampening of dynamics, the flow may locally be intensified. The model predicted an intensification of the flow near the top of a canopy in concurrence with field and laboratory observations. Dissipation in the coupled model, due to the applied non-linear friction law, grows exponentially with increasing flow. As a result the permeability of a canopy to the ambient flow decreases with increasing dissipation. Consequently, at high flow velocities, while becoming increasingly impermeable, a canopy acts like an obstacle that deflects the flow above it, which causes the observed intensification. Results for canopies consisting of seagrasses with different leaf structure and plant geometry show remarkable differences in predicted plant motions, current profiles, drag forces, and velocity shear. Predictions for moving plants are compared with those for rigid, less flexible, structures and undisturbed flow.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2008 Elsevier Ltd.
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