Drag coefficient parameter estimation for aquaculture systems


The flow conditions in and around a suspended canopy, resembling those formed by aquaculture structures such as rafts cages and longlines, were modeled using an augmented version of the hydrodynamic model Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code. The model was calibrated using vertical profiles of horizontal velocities, Reynolds stresses, and turbulent kinetic energies obtained from prior laboratory flume experiments. The parameter estimation code, PEST, was used to optimize various model parameters including horizontal momentum diffusivity, vertical eddy viscosity, turbulence closure constants, and, most importantly, depth-dependent drag coefficients. An increasing average drag coefficient was observed with decreasing canopy blockage ratio, and an empirical relationship for the vertical variation of drag coefficient was developed that may be appropriate for use in full-scale models of aquaculture systems. Overall, the calibrated canopy-turbulence parameters and drag-coefficient empiricisms may yield improved predictions of alterations to hydrodynamic and nutrient-transport conditions due to various aquaculture structures. Such predictions will help develop methods to minimize environmental impacts and to increase production from aquaculture farms.

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Elements of this research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No. 773330. The manuscript was vastly improved because of thorough critiques offered by two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Scott C. James.

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James, S.C., O’Donncha, F. Drag coefficient parameter estimation for aquaculture systems. Environ Fluid Mech 19, 989–1003 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10652-019-09697-7

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  • Aquaculture
  • EFDC
  • Numerical modeling
  • Parameter estimation
  • Turbulence