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Keywords:

  • kelp forest;
  • coastal hydrodynamics

[1] Macrocystis pyrifera (Giant Kelp) forests form important habitats in temperate coastal regions. Hydrodynamics control the transport of nutrients, food particles, larvae and spores at scales ranging from boundary layers around individual blades to entire kelp forests. Our measurements include vertical profiles of current and temperature, and concurrent wave measurements, at a number of different locations in and around a kelp forest at Santa Cruz, California. We find that flow at the site is dominated by variations at diurnal and semidiurnal frequencies. A vertically sheared across-shore flow, consistent with flow driven by an across-shore density gradient, is thought to be important for exchange between the kelp forest and the surrounding coastal ocean. Within the kelp forest, currents are reduced by a factor that correlates with surface canopy coverage, higher frequency internal waves are damped, and onshore transport due to waves (Stokes drift) is estimated to be similar in magnitude to that due to currents. Richardson numbers within the kelp forest are higher than those outside the kelp forest and indicate that the water column within the kelp forest is usually stable to turbulence generation by mean velocity shear.