Experimental observations of 3D flow alterations by vegetation under oscillatory flows

Jorge E. San Juan, Gerardo Veliz Carrillo, Rafael O. Tinoco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presents observations from a series of experiments on an oscillatory tunnel, using a three-dimensional, volumetric particle image velocimetry system to investigate the effect of a single plant morphology on flow alterations. Three synthetic plants, mimicking three species representative of riverine, tidal, and coastal vegetation communities are investigated under various combinations of wave period and orbital excursion. The study allows to investigate the temporal and spatial distribution of the velocity field past the submerged plants with high spatial resolution. It shows that even a detailed characterization of plant morphology, represented by obstructed area or patch porosity, is not enough to accurately parameterize variations in instantaneous velocity, turbulent kinetic energy, bed shear stresses, and coherent flow structures. The study shows that bending and swaying of the plant generates eddies at multiple scales, at various locations and orientations with respect to the stem, branches, and leaves, which may be overlooked with point measurements or even 2D PIV, and can significantly enhance or dampen forces at the bed driving sediment transport processes in sparse vegetation patches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1497-1525
Number of pages29
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bed shear stress
  • Oscillatory flow
  • Turbulence
  • Vegetation
  • Volumetric PIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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