Brett, J.; Samuell, M.; Augstein, B.; Parra, S.; Hancock, E.; Saunders, C.; Wunsch, S.; Winstead, N., and Boothby, J., 0000. Nature-based coastal protection: Measuring and modeling flow reduction by oysters.

Natural coastal infrastructure protects coast lines from climate hazard impacts, such as erosion and flooding. Laboratory and modeling studies presented here examine the utility of oyster reefs as a form of natural coastal protection. Oyster reefs are known to provide both water quality improvements and erosion protection. Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of oysters on flow parameters in a recirculating flow channel. A cage of eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, was placed in the flow channel, blocking a portion of the flow, to imitate cultured oysters in the ocean. Particle image velocimetry was used to measure the flow behind the oyster cage to examine the impact of the oysters compared with a control test with an empty cage. Average velocities were reduced by 15%, with velocities directly behind the cage reduced 70% in fresh water and reversed in salt water. A setup similar to the laboratory experiments was simulated in a Coupled Ocean–Atmospheric–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) model. In the COAWST model, the oyster reef was simulated as stiff vegetation with a drag coefficient of 8, reproducing the 70% reduction measured in the lab experiments. Finally, a regional model is presented, which demonstrates the impact of an oyster reef on waves and currents at a larger scale with a drag coefficient of 1.5, the highest numerically stable value found. Within the oyster vegetation patch, depth-averaged currents were reduced 14% and bottom currents were reduced 97%. Significant wave heights were reduced by 62% above the reef and 23% shoreward of the reef. The results here suggest that regional modeling such as COAWST can be an effective tool for assessing the impact of potential coastal resilience strategies to mitigate climate hazard impacts in a climate-changed world.

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