Environmental Fluid Mechanics

Purpose and focus of SIG5

Environmental Fluid Mechanics (EFM) traditionally focuses on physical and biogeochemical processes involved with mixing and dispersion in the atmosphere, coastal areas, water reservoirs and rivers. EFM represents a challenging discipline, because it involves deep knowledge of fundamental physical processes that have to be applied at large scales. In EFM, development of numerical algorithms and numerical methodologies are required to model the challenging interactions between different phases and fields, and apply this theoretical knowledge to real-life problems.

In connection with climate change, a particularly strong interest emerged in sustainable energy conversion from wind, waves and tidal currents. The environmental impact of such systems can be maintained small provided that an accurate design is carried out – this puts EFM as a key discipline in a timely context. The recent development of innovative design procedures for offshore wind turbine, wave energy converters and tidal turbines opened new prospects for marine energy conversion, especially when considering the massive energy production of offshore wind power plants or the advantageous use of wave energy converters or tidal turbines for feeding remote islands with sustainable energy. Apart from energy harvesting on short term, also the prediction of long-term environmental impact of such infrastructure is gaining momentum – this will be a new item of interest to EFM, e.g., considering the changes in sediment migration due to the placement of large off-shore wind farms.

The process of optimal design nowadays also accounts for the underwater radiated noise. In this sense, EFM recently extended to incorporate environmental hydroacoustic, given the growing acoustic impact from offshore structures, wind farms and turbokinetic turbines. A key priority research topic in EFM is the dispersion of microplastics, which is of central importance in the European 2030 Agenda.

The main scope of SIG5 is to bring together scientists and practitioners participating within the EFM network to help understand, mitigate and solve environmental fluid mechanics problems and develop ideas in a European environment.

The following topics will be of interest to SIG5:


  • Thermal convection and gravity-driven flows
  • Mixing processes, shallow flows, wind, waves and tidal currents, dynamics of jets and plumes, rotation
  • Lagrangian dispersion
  • Turbulence closure for environmental applications
  • Wave phenomena, dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer, sediment transport, biological and chemical transformations in environmental flows
  • Environmental hydroacoustics
  • Bridging scales in environmental and marine energy applications (from DNS to LES and RANS), dedicated numerical algorithms, experimental techniques in small scale laboratories and in real fields, and the development of data-driven models for prediction purposes.


  • Energy conversion in the marine environment
  • Vulnerability of coastal, offshore and river infrastructure
  • Management of coastal areas, lakes and rivers (climate change, sediment transport, noise)
  • Water treatment
  • Environmental impact of energy harvesting systems (wind, marine, …)
  • Noise generation and propagation at environmental scales
  • Dispersion of microplastics in water basins

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