Semester of Graduation

Summer 2023


Master of Science (MS)


Civil & Enivronmental Engineering

Document Type



Mangrove forests can be found along the world’s intertidal tropical and sub-tropical coastlines. These forested wetlands provide many ecosystem services, including supporting coastal food chains, trapping sediment, and shoreline stabilization. Mangroves are also known for flood damage mitigation by dissipating waves and surge during flooding events. Thus, coastal communities declare a vested interest in the performance of the forest to mitigate flood damage. Physical models using artificial mangrove structures have shown that red mangrove-dominated fringe forests can protect built infrastructure by reducing wave height due to increased drag. One way to estimate the contribution of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) prop root systems to attenuate wave and storm surge energy is the use of allometric relationships to predict different dimensions of mangrove aboveground structures based on tree diameter and stand density. While these are important components of wave propagation models, such as X-beach. Most research has typically ignored dimensions that predict projected root surface, which has been identified as a key feature of these nature-based solutions to calculate the drag force and wave attenuation. Here, we report on field-based measurements to determine mangrove’s prop root systems projected surface area across distinct coastal typologies. 43 individual red mangrove trees ranging from 5 to 58 cm in diameter at breast height (DBH) were measured using a portable terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) system and an iPad Pro that both relies on Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of prop roots. 15 individual tea mangrove (Pelliciera) trees ranging from 2 to 23 cm in diameter were measured. A strong positive correlation for red mangroves, R2 = .8929 and P-value = .004464, was found between trunk DBH and projected area, and another vii strong correlation for tea mangroves, R2=.9027 and P-value = 6.017 x 10−8, was found between the DBH and frontal area. Indicating that mangrove forest structural parameters are robust parameters to describe storm surge and wave reduction potential. Improved estimates of how mangrove ecosystems can protect communities will support both long-term planning of land use and redevelopment choices during preliminary stages of recovery.



Committee Chair

Chris Kees

Available for download on Thursday, July 11, 2024