Uncovering fine-scale wave-driven transport features in a fringing coral reef system via Lagrangian coherent structures

Matthieu Leclair, Ryan Lowe, Zhenlin Zhang, Greg Ivey, Thomas Peacock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Understanding the transport and exchange of water masses both within a reef and between a reef and the surrounding ocean is needed to describe a wide-range of ecosystem processes that are shaped by the movement of material and heat. We show how novel Lagrangian data processing methods, specifically developed to reveal key and often hidden transport structures, can help visualize flow transport patterns within and around morphologically complex reef systems. As an example case study, we consider the wave-driven flow transport within the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. We show that a network of attracting, repelling, and trapping flow transport structures organizes the flow transport into, around, and out of the reef. This approach is broadly applicable to coral reef systems, since the combination of well-defined bathymetry and persistent flow-forcing mechanisms (e.g., by wave breaking or tides) is conducive to the existence of persistent Lagrangian transport structures that organize material transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190
JournalFluids
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2020

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