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Turbulence and Coral Reefs.

  • Author(s): Davis, Kristen A;
  • Pawlak, Geno;
  • Monismith, Stephen G
  • et al.
Abstract

The interaction of coral reefs, both chemically and physically, with the surrounding seawater is governed, at the smallest scales, by turbulence. Here, we review recent progress in understanding turbulence in the unique setting of coral reefs-how it influences flow and the exchange of mass and momentum both above and within the complex geometry of coral reef canopies. Flow above reefs diverges from canonical rough boundary layers due to their large and highly heterogeneous roughness and the influence of surface waves. Within coral canopies, turbulence is dominated by large coherent structures that transport momentum both into and away from the canopy, but it is also generated at smaller scales as flow is forced to move around branches or blades, creating wakes. Future work interpreting reef-related observations or numerical models should carefully consider the influence that spatial variation has on momentum and scalar flux.

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