Thumbnail Image

The differential response of kelp to swell and infragravity wave motion

We present field measurements of the movement of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera under wave forcing. We resolve the depth and frequency-dependent responses along the stipe and find different and counterintuitive patterns of response at the infragravity and swell wave forcing frequencies. At swell frequencies, tilting of the stipe is largest toward the holdfast, whereas at infragravity frequencies, the stipe tilting is largest closer to the water surface. It is postulated that the stretching of blades and subsequent pull on the stipe is, in part, responsible for these patterns. This conclusion is supported by results of manipulative experiments, which show a more along-stipe uniform response after removal of blades from the kelp. The length of the kelp also exerts a strong control on the relative magnitudes of movements in the different frequency bands, with the swell band becoming more important relative to the infragravity band for shorter length kelp. These results indicate that kelp will differentially dissipate energy over both frequencies and varying depths within the water column. The variety of movement responses over differing wave forcing frequencies may also imply that there exist differing rates of breakage for kelp exposed to hydrodynamics stressors of multiple frequencies.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Mullarney, J., & Pilditch, C. (2017). The differential response of kelp to swell and infragravity wave motion. Limnology and Oceanography, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.10587
ASLO: Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.