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Aeolian sand transport models, widely employed by coastal scientists and managers, assume temporal and spatial homogeneity within the saltation field. This research questions that assumption by demonstrating that the saltation field is event-driven, therefore indicating that the saltation field is not temporally steady. The findings from this research may explain a portion of the conclusions from previous studies that indicated inequalities between model-estimated and field-measured aeolian sand transport. The relationship between unsteadiness in a turbulent wind field and pulses in a sand transport field was investigated on a beach near Shoalhaven Heads, New South Wales, Australia. Microphone-based saltation sensors, “miniphones,” and thermal anemometers (both instruments constructed exclusively for this field experiment) were co-located (0.02 m separation on center) and deployed between 0.01 and 0.0225 m above the bed, and sampled at 6000 Hz. Average grain size at the field site was 0.30 mm. Five runs totaling 2050 seconds of wind and saltation data were analyzed. The continuous wavelet transform, using the Morlet wavelet base, was the principle method for analyzing the wind and saltation records. The cross continuous wavelet transform was used to analyze the wind and saltation time series concurrently. Wind, saltation, and cross events were discerned by selecting wavelet power coefficients between wavelet scales of 0.4 and 3.0 seconds and with coefficients exceeding the 95% confidence interval. Average event spacing was 6.10, 6.50, and 6.73 seconds for the wind, saltation, and cross events, respectively. The average event spacing measured in this research was compared to the empirical-based model presented by Rao, Narashimha, and Narayanan (1971). The correspondence between the model and this research strongly suggests that bursting-type coherent structures were present. The durations of average wind, saltation, and cross events were 1.87, 2.10, and 1.73 seconds, respectively. Integral time scales, calculated using normalized auto correlation and power spectral density analysis, were approximately two seconds for the wind and saltation systems. The temporal coincidence of the integral time scale estimations and the event durations for the wind and saltation system strongly suggests that wind events are driving sand transport events.


Copyright 2006, Jean Ellis

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