EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing hydrodynamic processes of nearshore coral reefs: numerical modeling and field observations around the island of Curaçao

Vesna Bertoncelj1,2, Paolo Stocchi1, Caitlin Holzhauser3, Virginia Sánchez Barranco1, Esmeralda Alcantar4, Adam Candy1, Andi Haas1, Furu Mienis1, Lennart de Nooijer1, Erik van Sebille2, and Mark Vermeij4,5
Vesna Bertoncelj et al.
  • 1Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Texel, The Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 3Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 4Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), University van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 5CARMABI foundation, Curaçao

The state of coral reef ecosystems is highly dependent on the availability and ratio of essential resources such as oxygen, minerals and nutrients, and the presence of pollutants, pathogens and other possible stressors. The distribution of these inputs is dynamic and depends on many factors, including the nearshore hydrodynamic processes. These are unique processes, consisting of tidal pumping, nearshore circulation, and wave action. Furthermore, these processes are highly influenced by complex reef bathymetry and the physical roughness of the reef. The latter has a crucial role in the boundary layer characteristics, which influences uptake by reef organisms at smaller spatial scales.

The understanding of distribution and transport of particulate and dissolved substances is challenging as field surveys are difficult to perform and there is a large variety of coral shapes. However, assessing the hydrodynamic processes is a necessary first step in order to link the sources and sinks of substances with the coral health and growth. Within the interdisciplinary research program SEALINK, we aim to assess the distribution and pathways of substances around the island of Curaçao. Field observations on selected sites along the coast of Curaçao include current and wave measurements with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers and flow visualization with fluorescent dye.

We will present preliminary results from the field campaign showing velocity fields and wave transformation on different stations along the cross-shore transects on the reef platform. Using a combination of field observations and 3D non-hydrostatic Computational Fluid Dynamics models, we investigate the mixing mechanisms and local energy balance at scales of O(10 m) on the selected reef quadrants. This serves as a basis for a further analysis with Lagrangian Particle Tracking methods to track the selected substances identified with other field campaigns within the SEALINK program.

How to cite: Bertoncelj, V., Stocchi, P., Holzhauser, C., Sánchez Barranco, V., Alcantar, E., Candy, A., Haas, A., Mienis, F., de Nooijer, L., van Sebille, E., and Vermeij, M.: Assessing hydrodynamic processes of nearshore coral reefs: numerical modeling and field observations around the island of Curaçao, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-13468,, 2022.

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