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Flow-vegetation interactions at the plant-scale: the importance of volumetric canopy morphology on flow field dynamics

BOOTHROYD, RICHARD,JAMES (2017) Flow-vegetation interactions at the plant-scale: the importance of volumetric canopy morphology on flow field dynamics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Vegetation is abundant in rivers, and has a significant influence on their hydraulic, geomorphological, and ecological functioning. However, past modelling of the influence of vegetation has generally neglected the complexity of natural plants. This thesis develops a novel numerical representation of flow through and around floodplain and riparian vegetation, focusing on flow-vegetation interactions at the plant-scale. The plant volumetric canopy morphology, which comprises the distribution of vegetal elements over the three-dimensional plant structure, is accurately captured at the millimetre scale spatial resolution using Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), and incorporated into a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model used to predict flow. Numerical modelling, with vegetation conceptualised as a porous blockage, is used to improve the process-understanding of flow-vegetation interactions. Model predictions are validated against flume experiments, with plant motion dynamics investigated, and analysis extended to consider turbulent flow structures and the plant drag response.

Results demonstrate the spatially heterogeneous velocity fields associated with plant volumetric canopy morphology. The presence of leaves, in addition to the posture and aspect of the plant, significantly modifies flow field dynamics. New insights into flow-vegetation interactions include the control of plant porosity, influencing ‘bleed-flow’ through the plant body. As the porosity of the plant reduces, and bleed-flow is prevented, the volume of flow acceleration increases by up to ~150%, with more sub-canopy flow diverted beneath the impermeable plant blockage. Species-dependent drag coefficients are quantified; these are shown to be dynamic as the plant reconfigures, differing from the commonly assigned value of unity, and for the species’ investigated in this thesis range between 0.95 and 2.92. The newly quantified drag coefficients are used to re-evaluate vegetative flow resistance, and the physically-determined Manning’s n values calculated are highly applicable to conveyance estimators and industry standard hydraulic models used in the management of the river corridor.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Nov 2017 12:12

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