Mathematical modeling of flow through vegetated regions
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Understanding flow processes of sea and fresh water through complex coastal regions is of utmost importance for a number of applications of interest to the scientific and engineering community, including wetland health and restoration, inland flooding due to tropical storms and hurricanes, and navigation through coastal waters. In such regions, the existence of vegetation increases flow resistance, which is a major factor in determining velocity and water level distribution in wetlands and inland. Commonly, the momentum loss due to vegetation is included in a bottom friction term in the model equations; however, such models may oversimplify the complex resistance characteristics of such a system. With recent increases in computational capabilities, it is now feasible to develop and implement more intricate resistance models that more accurately capture these characteristics. We present two methods for modeling flow through vegetated regions. With the first method, we employ mathematical and computational upscaling techniques from the study of subsurface flow to parametrize drag in a complex heterogeneous region. These parameterizations vary greatly depending on Reynolds number. For the coastal flows in which we are interested the Reynolds number at different locations in the domain may vary from order 1 to order 1000, so we must consider laminar and fully turbulent flows. Large eddy simulation (LES) is used to model the effects of turbulence. The geometry of a periodic cell of vegetative obstacles is completely resolved in the fluid mesh with a standard no-slip boundary condition imposed on the fluid-vegetation boundaries. The corresponding drag coefficient is calculated and upscaling laws from the study of inertial flow through porous media are used to parametrize the drag coefficient over a large range of Reynolds numbers. Simulations are performed using a locally conservative, stabilized continuous Galerkin finite element method on highly-resolved, unstructured 2D and 3D meshes. The second method we present is an immersed structure approach. In this method, separate meshes are used for the fluid domain and vegetative obstacles. Taking techniques from immersed boundary finite element methods, the effects of the fluid on the vegetative structures and vice versa are calculated using integral transforms. This method allows us to model flow over much larger scales and containing much more complicated obstacle geometry. Using a simple elastic structure model we can incorporate bending and moving obstacles which would be extremely computationally expensive for the first method. We model flexible vegetation as thin, elastic, inextensible cantilever beams. We present two numerical methods for modeling the beam motion and analyze their computational expense, stability, and accuracy. Using the immersed structure approach, a fully coupled steady-state fluid-vegetation interaction model is developed as well as a dynamic interaction model assuming dynamic fluid flow and quasi-static beam bending. This method is verified using channel flow and wave tank test problems. We calculate the bulk drag coefficient in these flow scenarios and analyze their trends with changing model parameters including stem population density and flow Reynolds number. These results are compared to well-respected experimental results. We model real-life beds of Spartina alterniflora grass with representative beds of flexible beams and perform similar comparisons.