A plastic model of eelgrass was created by graduate student Marco Ghisalberti to study the onset of monami and its impact on vertical exchange between a submerged canopy and overlying water column. The plastic model is dynamically similar to real seagrass in rigidity, buoyancy, and drag profile [photo by Marco Ghisalberti].

Vegetation Hydrodynamics

Fresh and salt-water wetlands are important transition zones that control exchanges of sediment, nutrients, and pollutants between terrestrial and aquatic systems. Wetland plants contribute directly through uptake and biological transformation and indirectly by altering the hydrodynamic regime. Submerged vegetation, such as seagrasses, serve a similar role in coastal regions, controlling nutrient loads and altering water clarity by promoting particulate deposition. Professor Nepf's research examines the hydrodynamic aspects of vegetation, e.g. the turbulence and transport processes associated with flow through and around aquatic canopies, in relation to canopy morphology, flexibility, and degree of submergence. The goal is to understand the effects of vegetation on marsh and coastal hydrodynamics, and to use this understanding to describe the role of aquatic vegetation in controlling particulate and pollutant fate in coastal regions.

Funded by the National Science Foundation.