Coastal wetlands such as salt marshes and mangroves provide valuable ecosystem services including coastal protection. Many studies have assessed the influence of plant traits and wave conditions on vegetationinduced wave dissipation, whereas the effect of tidal currents is often ignored. To our knowledge, only two studies investigated wave dissipation by vegetation with the presence of following currents (current velocity is in the same direction aswave propagation) (Li and Yan, 2007; Paul et al., 2012). However, based on independent experiments, they have drawn contradictive conclusions whether steady currents increase or decrease wave attenuation. We show in this paper that this inconsistency may be caused by a difference in ratio of imposed current velocity to amplitude of the horizontalwave orbital velocity.We found that following currents can either increase or decreasewave dissipation depending on the velocity ratio, which explains the seeming inconsistency in the two previous studies.Wave dissipation in plant canopies is closely related to vegetation drag coefficients.
We apply a new approach to obtain the drag coefficients. This new method eliminates the potential errors that are often introduced by the commonly used method. More importantly, it is capable of obtaining the vegetation drag coefficient in combined current–wave flows,which is not possible for the commonly used calibration method. Based on laboratory data, we propose an empirical relation between drag coefficient and Reynolds number, which can be useful for numericalmodeling. The characteristics of drag coefficient variation and in-canopy velocity dynamics are incorporated into an analytical model to help understand the effect of following currents on vegetation-induced wave dissipation.