The evaluation of longitudinal dispersion in aquatic canopies is necessary to predict the behavior of dissolved species and suspended particles in marsh and wetland systems. Here we consider the influence of canopy morphology on longitudinal dispersion, focusing on transport before constituents have mixed over depth. Velocity and longitudinal dispersion were measured in a model canopy with vertically varying canopy density. The vertical variation in canopy morphology generates vertical variation in the mean velocity profile, which in turn creates mean-shear dispersion. We develop and verify a model that predicts the mean-shear dispersion in the near field from morphological characteristics of the canopy, such as stem diameter and frontal area. Close to the source, longitudinal dispersion is dominated by velocity heterogeneity at the scale of individual stems. However, within a distance of approximately 1 m, the shear dispersion associated with velocity heterogeneity over depth increases and eclipses this smaller-scale process.
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