Canopy Randomness, Scale, and Stem Size Effects on the Interfacial Transfer Process in Vegetated Flows

Chien Yung Tseng, Rafael O. Tinoco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquatic vegetation plays an important role in natural water environments by interacting with the flow and generating turbulence that affects the air-water and sediment-water interfacial transfer. Regular and staggered arrays are often set as simplified layouts for vegetation canopy to study both mean flow and turbulence statistics in vegetated flows, which creates uniform spacing between vegetation elements, resulting in preferential flow paths within the array. Such preferential paths can produce local high velocity and strong turbulence, which do not necessarily happen in natural environments where vegetation is randomly distributed. How the randomness of the canopy affects interfacial processes by altering spatial turbulence distribution, which can potentially lead to different turbulence feedback on the interfacial transfer process, remains an open question. This study conducted a series of laboratory experiments in a race-track flume using rigid cylinders as plant surrogates. Mean and turbulent flow statistics were characterized by horizontal- and vertical-sliced PIV. Based on the measured flow characteristics under different stem diameters and array configurations, we propose a method to quantify the randomness of the vegetation array and update a sediment-water-air interfacial gas transfer model with the randomness parameter to improve its accuracy. The updated model agrees well with the dissolved oxygen experimental data from our study and data from existing literature at various scales. The study provides critical insight into water quality management in vegetated channels with improved dissolved oxygen predictions considering vegetation layout as part of the interfacial transfer model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023WR035220
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • gas transfer
  • hyporheic exchange
  • randomness
  • stem size
  • turbulence
  • vegetated flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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