Scaled versus real-scale tests: Identifying scale and model errors in wave damping through woody vegetation

Su A. Kalloe*, Bas Hofland, Bregje K. Van Wesenbeeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Vegetation in front of levees, dikes and seawalls can decrease wave energy and therefore contribute to the safety against flooding. However, wave damping predictions by vegetation are still inaccurate due to measurement and modelling uncertainties. Many studies focused on finding reliable predictive tools using scaled flume tests with vegetation mimics. Scaling down vegetation can however lead to discrepancies with realistic scales, known as scale errors. In this work scaled tests were conducted on 3D-printed elastic replicas of willow trees and compared with real-scale experiments. We identified differences in measured wave dissipation between the scaled hydraulic model (1:10) and its real-scale prototype with 5m high live willow trees under storm conditions (1:1). The maximum measured wave damping (30%) was roughly 1.5 times higher than the real-scale experiments (20%). Following the same trend of the real-scale experiments, this amount of wave height damping declined for larger water levels. Largest effects are argued to be due to increased viscous damping (smaller branch Reynolds numbers) and non-exact flexibility scaling. These significant deviations illustrate that full-scale experiments, although expensive, are still needed to validate the results of scaled experiments for woody vegetation. Alternatively, accounting for these discrepancies can make scaled experiments more reliable and expensive real-scale experiments less needed for wave damping studies on woody vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107241
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • 3D-printed tree mimics
  • Pollard willow trees
  • Scaled model
  • Wave attenuation


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