Wave attenuation in mangroves; a quantitative approach to field observations

Erik Horstman, Catarine M. Dohmen-Janssen, P.M.F. Narra, N.J.F. van den Berg, M. Siemerink, Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher

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177 Citations (Scopus)
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Coastal mangroves, dwelling at the interface between land and sea, provide an important contribution to reducing risk from coastal hazards by attenuating incident waves and by trapping and stabilizing sediments. This paper focusses on relations between vegetation densities, wave attenuation rates, sediment characteristics and sedimentation rates in mangroves. These processes were studied along two cross-shore transects through mangroves fringing estuaries in the southern Andaman region of Thailand. Volumetric vegetation densities in these mangroves were ranging up to 32‰, depending on the water depth. Generalized total wave attenuation rates increased from 0.002 m− 1 in the sparsely vegetated forest fringes with Avicennia and Sonneratia species, up to 0.012 m− 1 in the dense Rhizophora vegetation in the back of the forests. The total wave attenuation rates integrate effects of shoaling and energy losses due to various bio-physical interactions within the mangrove ecosystem. Wave attenuation in the mangroves is presumably dominated by energy losses due to vegetation drag, since wave attenuation due to bottom friction and viscous dissipation on the bare mudflats is significantly lower than those inside the mangrove vegetation. Additionally, wave attenuation in the mangroves was found to facilitate enhanced net sediment deposition and a gradual fining of the bed material. These findings corroborate the coastal defence function of mangroves by quantifying their contribution to wave attenuation and sediment trapping. The explicit linking of these properties to vegetation composition and structure facilitates modelling studies investigating the mechanisms determining the coastal defence capacities of mangroves
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
JournalCoastal engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • IR-92892
  • METIS-301371


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