Measurements and Linear Wave Theory Based Simulations of Vegetated Wave Hydrodynamics for Practical Applications
Anderson, Mary Elizabeth
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Wave attenuation by vegetation is a highly dynamic process and its quantification is important for accurately understanding and predicting coastal hydrodynamics. However, the influence of vegetation on wave dissipation is not yet fully established nor implemented in current hydrodynamic models. A series of laboratory experiments were conducted at the Haynes Coastal Engineering Laboratory and in a two-dimensional flume at Texas A and M University to investigate the influence of relative vegetation height, stem density, and stem spacing uniformity on wave attenuation. Vegetation fields were represented as random cylinder arrays where the stem density and spatial variation were based on collected field specimens. Experimental results indicate wave attenuation is dependent on relative vegetation height, stem density, and stem spacing standard deviation. As stems occupy more of the water column, an increase in attenuation occurred given that the highest wave particle velocities are being impeded. Sparse vegetation fields dissipated less wave energy than the intermediate density; however, the extremely dense fields dissipated very little, if any, wave energy and sometimes wave growth was observed. This is possibly due to the highest density exceeding some threshold where maximum wave attenuation capabilities are exceeded and lowering of damping ensues. Additionally, wave attenuation increased with higher stem spatial variation due to less wake sheltering. A one-dimensional model with an analytical vegetation dissipation term was developed and calibrated to these experimental results to capture the wave transformation over the vegetation beds and to investigate the behavior of the vegetation field bulk drag coefficient. The best fit between predicted and measured wave heights was obtained using the least squares method considering the bulk drag coefficient as the single calibration parameter. The model was able to realistically capture the wave transformations over vegetation. Upon inspection, the bulk drag coefficient shared many of the dependencies of the total wave dissipation. The bulk drag coefficient increased with larger relative vegetation heights as well as with higher stem spacing standard deviation. Higher densities resulted in a lowering of the bulk drag coefficient but generally an increase in wave attenuation. These parameters and their influences help in identifying the important parameters for numerical studies to further our understanding of wave attenuation by wetlands.