The influence of macrophyte growth, typical of eutrophic conditions, on river flow velocities and turbulence production

Naden, Pamela; Rameshwaran, Ponnambalam; Mountford, Owen; Robertson, Coralie. 2006 The influence of macrophyte growth, typical of eutrophic conditions, on river flow velocities and turbulence production. Hydrological Processes, 20. 3915-3938.

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The influence of emergent and submerged macrophytes on flow velocity and turbulence production is demonstrated in a 140 m reach of the River Blackwater in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK. Macrophyte growth occurs in patches and is dominated by Sparganium erectum and Sparganium emersum. In May 2001, patches of S. erectum were already established and occupied 18% of the channel area. The flow adjusted to these (predominantly lateral) patches by being channelled through a narrower cross-section. The measured velocity profiles showed a logarithmic form, with deviations attributable to topographic control. The channel bed was the main source of turbulence. In September 2001, in-stream macrophytes occupied 27% of the channel, and overhanging bank vegetation affected 32% of the area. Overall flow resistance, described by Manning's n, showed a threefold increase that could be attributed to the growth of S. emersum in the middle of the channel. Velocity profiles showed different characteristic forms depending on their position relative to plant stems and leaves. The overall velocity field had a three-dimensional structure. Turbulence intensities were generally higher and turbulence profiles tended to mirror the velocity profiles. Evidence for the generation of coherent eddies was provided by ratios of the root mean square velocities. Spectral analysis identified deviations from the Kolmogorov -5/3 power law and provided statistical evidence for a spectral short-cut, indicative of additional turbulence production. This was most marked for the submerged vegetation and, in some instances, the overhanging bank vegetation. The long strap-like leaves of S. emersum being aligned approximately parallel to the flow and the highly variable velocity field created by the patch arrangement of macrophytes suggest that the dominant mechanism for turbulence production is vortex shedding along shear zones. Wake production around individual stems of S. emersum close to the bed may also be important locally.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Water Quality
ISSN: 0885-6087
Additional Keywords: aquatic macrophytes, plant patches, flow velocity, turbulence, spectral short-cut
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 09 May 2008 09:19 +0 (UTC)

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