Representing plants as rigid cylinders in experiments and models

A Vargas Luna, A Crosato, G Calvani, WSJ Uijttewaal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Simulating the morphological adaptation of water systems often requires including the effects of plants on water and sediment dynamics. Physical and numerical models need representing vegetation in a schematic easily-quantifiable way despite the variety of sizes, shapes and flexibility of real plants. Common approaches represent plants as rigid cylinders, but the ability of these schematizations to reproduce the effects of vegetation on morphodynamic processes has never been analyzed systematically. This work focuses on the consequences of representing plants as rigid cylinders in laboratory tests and numerical simulations. New experiments show that the flow resistance decreases for increasing element Reynolds numbers for both plants and rigid cylinders. Cylinders on river banks can qualitatively reproduce vegetation effects on channel width and bank-related processes. A comparative review of numerical simulations shows that Baptist's method that sums the contribution of bed shear stress and vegetation drag, underestimates bed erosion within sparse vegetation in real rivers and overestimates the mean flow velocity in laboratory experiments. This is due to assuming uniform flow among plants and to an overestimation of the role of the submergence ratio
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-222
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Volume93 Part B
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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