Development and Validation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Models for Prediction of Heat Transfer and Thermal Microenvironments of Corals
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We present Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models of the coupled dynamics of water flow, heat transfer and irradiance in and around corals to predict temperatures experienced by corals. These models were validated against controlled laboratory experiments, under constant and transient irradiance, for hemispherical and branching corals. Our CFD models agree very well with experimental studies. A linear relationship between irradiance and coral surface warming was evident in both the simulation and experimental result agreeing with heat transfer theory. However, CFD models for the steady state simulation produced a better fit to the linear relationship than the experimental data, likely due to experimental error in the empirical measurements. The consistency of our modelling results with experimental observations demonstrates the applicability of CFD simulations, such as the models developed here, to coral bleaching studies. A study of the influence of coral skeletal porosity and skeletal bulk density on surface warming was also undertaken, demonstrating boundary layer behaviour, and interstitial flow magnitude and temperature profiles in coral cross sections. Our models compliment recent studies showing systematic changes in these parameters in some coral colonies and have utility in the prediction of coral bleaching.
Computational Heat Transfer