Can we model turbulent flow over coral reefs using simpler geometric surrogates for the coral heads?
AbstractHydrodynamic consequences of using simpler geometric shapes to represent coral canopies are examined through a laboratory study. A canopy composed of cylinders is compared to a canopy composed of 3D printed, scaled down coral heads in a recirculating flume. Vertical velocity profiles are measured at four horizontal locations for each canopy type, and mean velocity and turbulence statistics are compared both within and above the canopy. A narrow, defined wake is present behind the cylinder canopy elements that is absent in the coral canopy. There is also a peak in shear stress at the top of the cylinder canopy, likely due to the sharp edge at the top of the cylinder. Above the canopy, however, mean and turbulence statistics behave similarly for both canopy types. Therefore, the results indicate we may reasonably get coral reef drag estimates from canopies with simpler geometric surrogates, especially when the mean free-stream and within-canopy flow speeds are matched to environmental conditions.