During the present era of global change, sustainable coastal protection is of growing importance. Hence, knowledge about the mitigation of flooding and erosion hazards with low environmental impact structures is of great interest. Coastal vegetation such as salt marshes and seagrasses can play an important role in dissipating energy from waves and currents. The growing awareness of the potential of salt marshes and seagrasses in contributing to coastal protection has lead to a growing number of experimental and modelling studies, to get an understanding on how these vegetations interact with hydrodynamics (see below). These studies have been carried out both from an ecological perspective, aimed at trying to enhance our fundamental understanding of how these vegetations function within an ecosystem, as well as from a more applied engineering perspective.

This experiment has been carried out within the FP7 project Theseus, adaptation to climate change. To obtain a good understanding of how wave attenuation with or without flow interacts with vegetation, we have studied two relevant coastal vegetations (Spartina and Puccinellia) that differ in shoot stiffness and vegetation density.To correctly carry out this study, the hydrondynamics will be manipulated (waves +/- currents with 2 different water levels to affect the relative importance of skimming flow and plant bending) in combination with vegetation characteristics (shoot stiffness, vegetation density and spatial biomass distribution) by using contrasting marsh species that can all dominate the pioneer zone. The vegetation field will be defined around 6m long in order to produce significant wave damping (technical details in section 4). Scientific goals described before will be achieved by means of free surface evolution and flow measurements.

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