Strong and weak, unsteady reconfiguration and its impact on turbulence structure within plant canopies

Ying Pan, Elizabeth Follett, Marcelo Chamecki, Heidi Nepf

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29 Scopus citations


Flexible terrestrial and aquatic plants bend in response to fluid motion and this reconfiguration mechanism reduces drag forces, which protects against uprooting or breaking under high winds and currents. The impact of reconfiguration on the flow can be described quantitatively by introducing a drag coefficient that decreases as a power-law function of velocity with a negative exponent known as the Vogel number. In this paper, two case studies are conducted to examine the connection between reconfiguration and turbulence dynamics within a canopy. First, a flume experiment was conducted with a model seagrass meadow. As the flow rate increased, both the mean and unsteady one-dimensional linear elastic reconfiguration increased. In the transition between the asymptotic regimes of negligible and strong reconfiguration, there is a regime of weak reconfiguration, in which the Vogel number achieved its peak negative value. Second, large-eddy simulation was conducted for a maize canopy, with different modes of reconfiguration characterized by increasingly negative values of the Vogel number. Even though the mean vertical momentum flux was constrained by field measurements, changing the mode of reconfiguration altered the distribution, strength, and fraction of momentum carried by strong and weak events. Despite the differences between these two studies, similar effects of the Vogel number on turbulence dynamics were demonstrated. In particular, a more negative Vogel number leads to a more positive peak of the skewness of streamwise velocity within the canopy, which indicates a preferential penetration of strong events into a vegetation canopy. We consider different reconfiguration geometry (one- and two-dimensional) and regime (negligible, weak, and strong) that can apply to a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic canopies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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