Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1497–1525 | Cite as

Experimental observations of 3D flow alterations by vegetation under oscillatory flows

  • Jorge E. San JuanEmail author
  • Gerardo Veliz Carrillo
  • Rafael O. Tinoco
Original Article


This study presents observations from a series of experiments on an oscillatory tunnel, using a three-dimensional, volumetric particle image velocimetry system to investigate the effect of a single plant morphology on flow alterations. Three synthetic plants, mimicking three species representative of riverine, tidal, and coastal vegetation communities are investigated under various combinations of wave period and orbital excursion. The study allows to investigate the temporal and spatial distribution of the velocity field past the submerged plants with high spatial resolution. It shows that even a detailed characterization of plant morphology, represented by obstructed area or patch porosity, is not enough to accurately parameterize variations in instantaneous velocity, turbulent kinetic energy, bed shear stresses, and coherent flow structures. The study shows that bending and swaying of the plant generates eddies at multiple scales, at various locations and orientations with respect to the stem, branches, and leaves, which may be overlooked with point measurements or even 2D PIV, and can significantly enhance or dampen forces at the bed driving sediment transport processes in sparse vegetation patches.


Vegetation Oscillatory flow Volumetric PIV Turbulence Bed shear stress 



JS was supported by UIUC-CEE Departmental Funds. GVC was supported by the SROP at UIUC. Data presented in this manuscript are available through Figshare at


  1. 1.
    Abdolahpour M, Ghisalberti M, Lavery P, McMahon K (2017) Vertical mixing in coastal canopies. Limnol Oceanogr 62(1):26–42Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Abdolahpour M, Ghisalberti M, McMahon K, Lavery PS (2018) The impact of flexibility on flow, turbulence, and vertical mixing in coastal canopies. Limnol Oceanogr 63(6):2777–2792Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Abdolahpour M, Hambleton M, Ghisalberti M (2017) The wave-driven current in coastal canopies. J Geophys Res Oceans 122(5):3660–3674Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aberle J, Järvelä J (2015) Hydrodynamics of vegetated channels. In: Rowiński P, Radecki-Pawlik A (eds) Rivers–physical, fluvial and environmental processes. Cham, Switzerland, pp 519–541Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Albayrak I, Nikora V, Miler O, O’Hare MT (2014) Flow-plant interactions at leaf, stem and shoot scales: drag, turbulence, and biomechanics. Aquat Sci 76(2):269–294Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anderson ME, Smith JM (2014) Wave attenuation by flexible, idealized salt marsh vegetation. Coast Eng 83:82–92Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Boothroyd RJ, Hardy RJ, Warburton J, Marjoribanks TI (2016) The importance of accurately representing submerged vegetation morphology in the numerical prediction of complex river flow. Earth Surf Process Landf 41(4):567–576Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bornette G, Puijalon S (2011) Response of aquatic plants to abiotic factors: a review. Aquat Sci 73(1):1–14Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Carstensen S, Sumer BM, Fredsøe J (2010) Coherent structures in wave boundary layers. Part 1. Oscillatory motion. J Fluid Mech 646:169–206Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chang K, Constantinescu G (2015) Numerical investigation of flow and turbulence structure through and around a circular array of rigid cylinders. J Fluid Mech 776:161–199Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Flammang BE, Lauder GV, Troolin DR, Strand TE (2011) Volumetric imaging of fish locomotion. Biol Lett 7(5):695–698Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    García MH, López F, Dunn C, Alonso CV (2004) Flow, turbulence, and resistance in a flume with simulated vegetation. In: Bennett SJ, Simon A (eds) Riparian vegetation and fluvial geomorphology. American Geophysical Union, Washington, pp 11–27Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ghisalberti M, Nepf HM (2002) Mixing layers and coherent structures in vegetated aquatic flows. J Geophys Res Oceans 107(C2):3-1–3-11Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ghisalberti M, Schlosser T (2013) Vortex generation in oscillatory canopy flow. J Geophys Res Oceans 118(3):1534–1542Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Guilmineau E, Queutey P (2002) A numerical simulation of vortex shedding from an oscillating circular cylinder. J Fluids Struct 16(6):773–794Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hansen JC, Reidenbach MA (2012) Wave and tidally driven flows in eelgrass beds and their effect on sediment suspension. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 448:271–288Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hansen JC, Reidenbach MA (2017) Turbulent mixing and fluid transport within florida bay seagrass meadows. Adv Water Resour 108:205–215Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Henriquez M, Reniers A, Ruessink B, Stive M (2012) Vortex tubes in the wave bottom boundary layer. In: Wouter Kranenburg EH, Wijnberg KM (eds) Proceedings of the 6th European conference on computer systems. University of Twente, Department of Water Engineering & Management, pp 143–146Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Henry PY, Myrhaug D, Aberle J (2015) Drag forces on aquatic plants in nonlinear random waves plus current. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 165:10–24Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Heuner M, Silinski A, Schoelynck J, Bouma TJ, Puijalon S, Troch P, Fuchs E, Schröder B, Schröder U, Meire P et al (2015) Ecosystem engineering by plants on wave-exposed intertidal flats is governed by relationships between effect and response traits. PLoS ONE 10(9):e0138086Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hino M, Kashiwayanagi M, Nakayama A, Hara T (1983) Experiments on the turbulence statistics and the structure of a reciprocating oscillatory flow. J Fluid Mech 131:363–400Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Horstman EM, Bryan KR, Mullarney JC, Pilditch CA, Eager CA (2018) Are flow-vegetation interactions well represented by mimics? A case study of mangrove pneumatophores. Adv Water Resour 111:360–371Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Jensen B, Sumer B, Fredsøe J (1989) Turbulent oscillatory boundary layers at high reynolds numbers. J Fluid Mech 206:265–297Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kilminster K, McMahon K, Waycott M, Kendrick GA, Scanes P, McKenzie L, O’Brien KR, Lyons M, Ferguson A, Maxwell P et al (2015) Unravelling complexity in seagrass systems for management: Australia as a microcosm. Sci Total Environ 534:97–109Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kuo J, Den Hartog C (2007) Seagrass morphology, anatomy, and ultrastructure. In: Larkum AWD, Orth RJ, Duarte CM (eds) Seagrasses: biology, ecologyand conservation. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 51–87Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lauder GV, Flammang B, Alben S (2012) Passive robotic models of propulsion by the bodies and caudal fins of fish. Integr Comp Biol 52(5):576–587Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lee SY, Primavera JH, Dahdouh-Guebas F, McKee K, Bosire JO, Cannicci S, Diele K, Fromard F, Koedam N, Marchand C et al (2014) Ecological role and services of tropical mangrove ecosystems: a reassessment. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 23(7):726–743Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lehn AM, Colin SP, Costello JH, Leftwich MC, Tytell ED (2015) Volumetric flow around a swimming lamprey. In: APS meeting AbstractsGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Liénard J, Lynn K, Strigul N, Norris BK, Gatziolis D, Mullarney JC, Karin RB, Henderson SM (2016) Efficient three-dimensional reconstruction of aquatic vegetation geometry: estimating morphological parameters influencing hydrodynamic drag. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 178:77–85Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Losada IJ, Maza M, Lara JL (2016) A new formulation for vegetation-induced damping under combined waves and currents. Coast Eng 107:1–13Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lowe RJ, Koseff JR, Monismith SG (2005) Oscillatory flow through submerged canopies: 1. Velocity structure. J Geophys Res Oceans 110(C10016):1–17Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Luhar M, Nepf H (2016) Wave-induced dynamics of flexible blades. J Fluids Struct 61:20–41Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Luhar M, Nepf HM (2011) Flow-induced reconfiguration of buoyant and flexible aquatic vegetation. Limnol Oceanogr 56(6):2003–2017Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Luhar M, Rominger J, Nepf H (2008) Interaction between flow, transport and vegetation spatial structure. Environ Fluid Mech 8(5–6):423Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Maxwell PS, Eklöf JS, van Katwijk MM, O’brien KR, de la Torre-Castro M, Boström C, Bouma TJ, Krause-Jensen D, Unsworth RK, van Tussenbroek BI et al (2017) The fundamental role of ecological feedback mechanisms for the adaptive management of seagrass ecosystems—a review. Biol Rev 92(3):1521–1538Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Maza M, Lara JL, Losada IJ (2015) Tsunami wave interaction with mangrove forests: a 3-d numerical approach. Coast Eng 98:33–54Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Maza M, Lara JL, Losada IJ (2016) Solitary wave attenuation by vegetation patches. Adv Water Resour 98:159–172Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Mujal-Colilles A, Christensen KT, Bateman A, Garcia MH (2016) Coherent structures in oscillatory flows within the laminar-to-turbulent transition regime for smooth and rough walls. J Hydraul Res 54(5):502–515Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Mujal-Colilles A, Mier JM, Christensen KT, Bateman A, Garcia MH (2014) Piv experiments in rough-wall, laminar-to-turbulent, oscillatory boundary-layer flows. Exp Fluids 55(1):1633Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mullarney JC, Henderson SM, Reyns JA, Norris BK, Bryan KR (2017) Spatially varying drag within a wave-exposed mangrove forest and on the adjacent tidal flat. Cont Shelf Res 147:102–113Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Nepf H (1999) Drag, turbulence, and diffusion in flow through emergent vegetation. Water Resour Res 35(2):479–489Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Nepf HM (2012) Flow and transport in regions with aquatic vegetation. Annu Rev Fluid Mech 44:123–142Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Nielsen P (1992) Coastal bottom boundary layers and sediment transport, vol 4. World Scientific Publishing Company, SingaporeGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Norris BK, Mullarney JC, Bryan KR, Henderson SM (2017) The effect of pneumatophore density on turbulence: a field study in a sonneratia-dominated mangrove forest, vietnam. Cont Shelf Res 147:114–127Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    O’Hare MT, Aguiar FC, Asaeda T, Bakker ES, Chambers PA, Clayton JS, Elger A, Ferreira TM, Gross EM, Gunn ID et al (2017) Plants in aquatic ecosystems: current trends and future directions. Hydrobiologia 812(1):1–11Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ortiz AC, Ashton A, Nepf H (2013) Mean and turbulent velocity fields near rigid and flexible plants and the implications for deposition. J Geophys Res Earth Surf 118(4):2585–2599Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pan Y, Follett E, Chamecki M, Nepf H (2014) Strong and weak, unsteady reconfiguration and its impact on turbulence structure within plant canopies. Phys Fluids 26(10):2003–2017Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Patterson MR, Harwell MC, Orth LM, Orth RJ (2001) Biomechanical properties of the reproductive shoots of eelgrass. Aquat Bot 69(1):27–40Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Paul M, Henry PY, Thomas R (2014) Geometrical and mechanical properties of four species of northern european brown macroalgae. Coast Eng 84:73–80Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Pope SB (2000) Turbulent flows. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Pothos S, Troolin D, Lai W, Menon R (2009) V3v-volumetric three-component velocimetry for 3d flow measurements main principle, theory and applications. Rev Termotec 2:2009Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Pujol D, Casamitjana X, Serra T, Colomer J (2013) Canopy-scale turbulence under oscillatory flow. Cont Shelf Res 66:9–18Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Pujol D, Serra T, Colomer J, Casamitjana X (2013) Flow structure in canopy models dominated by progressive waves. J Hydrol 486:281–292Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Reidenbach MA, Monismith SG, Koseff JR, Yahel G, Genin A (2006) Boundary layer turbulence and flow structure over a fringing coral reef. Limnol Oceanogr 51(5):1956–1968Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Ros À, Colomer J, Serra T, Pujol D, Soler M, Casamitjana X (2014) Experimental observations on sediment resuspension within submerged model canopies under oscillatory flow. Cont Shelf Res 91:220–231Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Schnauder I, Moggridge HL (2009) Vegetation and hydraulic-morphological interactions at the individual plant, patch and channel scale. Aquat Sci 71(3):318Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Sterk G, Jacobs A, Van Boxel J et al (1998) The effect of turbulent flow structures on saltation sand transport in the atmospheric boundary layer. Earth Surf Process Landf 23(10):877–887Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Tanino Y, Nepf HM (2008) Lateral dispersion in random cylinder arrays at high reynolds number. J Fluid Mech 600:339–371Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Tempest JA, Möller I, Spencer T (2015) A review of plant-flow interactions on salt marshes: the importance of vegetation structure and plant mechanical characteristics. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Water 2(6):669–681Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Tinoco R, Coco G (2014) Observations of the effect of emergent vegetation on sediment resuspension under unidirectional currents and waves. Earth Surf Dyn 2(1):83Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Tinoco R, Coco G (2018) Turbulence as the main driver of resuspension in oscillatory flow through vegetation. J Geophys Res Earth Surf 123(5):891–904Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Tinoco RO, Coco G (2016) A laboratory study on sediment resuspension within arrays of rigid cylinders. Adv Water Resour 92:1–9Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Tinoco RO, Cowen EA (2013) The direct and indirect measurement of boundary stress and drag on individual and complex arrays of elements. Exp Fluids 54(4):1509Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Vittori G, Verzicco R (1998) Direct simulation of transition in an oscillatory boundary layer. J Fluid Mech 371:207–232Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Wang X, Xie W, Zhang D, He Q (2016) Wave and vegetation effects on flow and suspended sediment characteristics: a flume study. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 182:1–11Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Wilson CJ, Wilson PS, Greene CA, Dunton KH (2010) Seagrass leaves in 3-d: using computed tomography and low-frequency acoustics to investigate the material properties of seagrass tissue. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 395(1–2):128–134Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Wu WC, Cox DT (2015) Effects of wave steepness and relative water depth on wave attenuation by emergent vegetation. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 164:443–450Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Yang JQ, Kerger F, Nepf HM (2015) Estimation of the bed shear stress in vegetated and bare channels with smooth beds. Water Resour Res 51(5):3647–3663Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Yang W, Choi SU (2009) Impact of stem flexibility on mean flow and turbulence structure in depth-limited open channel flows with submerged vegetation. J Hydraul Res 47(4):445–454Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Zeller RB, Weitzman JS, Abbett ME, Zarama FJ, Fringer OB, Koseff JR (2014) Improved parameterization of seagrass blade dynamics and wave attenuation based on numerical and laboratory experiments. Limnol Oceanogr 59(1):251–266Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Zhang Y, Tang C, Nepf H (2018) Turbulent kinetic energy in submerged model canopies under oscillatory flow. Water Resour Res 54(3):1734–1750Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ven Te Chow Hydrosystem Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations