The 35th Annual Alexander Graham Christie Lecture

May 3, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
210 Hodson Hall

“How vegetation alters waves and current, and the feedbacks to environmental system function

Presented by Professor Heidi Nepf
Donald and Martha Harleman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Vegetation provides a wide range of ecosystem services valued at over 4 trillion dollars per year. Seagrasses, salt marshes, and mangroves, damp storm surge and waves, mitigate anthropogenic nutrient loads, and provide important habitat and blue carbon reservoirs. The conservation and restoration of these landscapes has become the center-point of nature-based solutions for coastal protection and carbon mitigation. This seminar will summarize basic concepts in vegetation hydrodynamics, focusing on flexible meadows of seagrass, for which the bending of plants in response to fluid motion (called reconfiguration) plays an important role in setting the drag. Scaling laws are developed to describe the damping of currents, turbulence and waves as a function of plant morphology, flexibility, and shoot density. The feedbacks from plant-flow interaction to sediment transport and carbon sequestration are also discussed.

Heidi Nepf is the Donald and Martha Harleman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She received a doctorate from Stanford University (1992) and spent one year at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before beginning her career at MIT in 1993. She is internationally known for her work on the impact of vegetation on currents, waves, and sediment transport in channels, wetlands, and coastal zones. In recognition of her work in this field, she was selected for a NSF Career Award, the Borland Lecture, the Chapman Lecture, the Harold Schoemaker Best Paper Award [IAHR], and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Bucknell University. Dr. Nepf served on the National Research Council panel that reviewed the Army Corps’ Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program.


Sponsored by the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the JHU Student Section and the Baltimore Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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