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Bio-Physical Controls on Wave Transformation in Coastal Reed Beds: Insights From the Razelm-Sinoe Lagoon System, Romania

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Möller, Iris 
Ionescu, Maria Smaranda 
Constantinescu, Adriana Maria 
Evans, Ben Richard 
Scrieciu, Albert 


jats:pCoastal wetlands are dynamic bio-physical systems in which vegetation affects the movement of water and sediment, which in turn build and maintain the landform and ecosystem. Wetlands are an effective buffer against coastal erosion and flooding, enhance water quality and human health and wellbeing. Numerous field and laboratory experiments have quantified the reduction of waves by coastal ecosystems. Numerical models, however, are only able to capture observed reduction in wave energy when calibration coefficients are obtained by comparison with measured dissipation rates. A deeper understanding of how wave attenuation varies over time, with local flow conditions and ecosystem properties, is still lacking and should be acquired from a greater range of ecosystem types and geographical settings. Few studies have observed the detailed seasonal variations in how coastal wetlands function as wave buffers and how such seasonal variations might be explained. Equally, few studies have focused on the effect of coastal reed beds on wave dynamics. This study addresses both: i) seasonal variability in wave dissipation through reed vegetation and ii) intricate connections between reed vegetation and the physical context (meteorological and topographical) that might explain such variability. We present observations of wind generated wave transformation through two jats:italicPhragmites australis</jats:italic> reed beds in the Razelm-Sinoe Lagoon System, Danube Delta, Romania. We find that seasonal changes in vegetation density and biomass, as well as meteorological conditions, affect observed wave conditions within the first few meters of the reed beds. Our results also show a preferential reduction of higher frequency waves, irrespective of reed stem diameter or density and suggest the potential importance of seasonal vegetation debris to observed wave dissipation. Such complex and non-linear biogeomorphic effects on wave dissipation are not currently well understood or captured in the parameterisation of vegetation-induced wave dissipation. Our study highlights the importance of an accurate and temporally granular quantification of nearshore bathymetry, wetland topography, and vegetation to fully understand, model, and manage bio-physical interactions in coastal wetlands. More specifically, our results point towards the need for spatially and temporally explicit wave decay functions in emergent reed vegetation. This is particularly critical where the accurate evaluation of the flood and erosion risk contribution of any wetland is required as part of nature-based coastal protection solutions.</jats:p>



3708 Oceanography, 31 Biological Sciences, 3103 Ecology, 37 Earth Sciences, 3705 Geology

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Frontiers in Marine Science

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Frontiers Media SA