Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

11-2014

Publication Source

Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Volume

119

Issue

11

Start Page

2396

Last Page

2411

DOI

10.1002/2014JF003210

Abstract

The downwind margin of White Sands dune field is an abrupt transition from mobile aeolian dunes to a dune-free vegetated surface. This margin is also relatively stable; over the past 60 years it has migrated several times more slowly than the slowest dunes within the dune field, resulting in a zone of dune coalescence, aggradation, and, along most of the margin, development of a dune complex (i.e., dunes superimposed on draas). Repeat terrestrial laser scanning surveys conducted over a 3 month period demonstrate that sediment fluxes within the dune complex decrease on approach to the margin. Computational fluid dynamics modeling indicates that this decrease is due, in part, to a decrease in mean turbulent bed shear stress on the lee side of the dune complex as a result of flow line divergence or sheltering of the lee-side dunes by the stoss side of the dune complex. Conservation of mass demands that this decrease in bed shear stress causes aggradation. We speculate that aggradation on the lee side of the dune complex further enhances the sheltering effect in a positive feedback, contributing to the growth and/or maintenance of the dune complex and a relatively abrupt and stable dune field margin. Our model and data add to a growing body of evidence that aeolian dune field patterns are influenced by feedbacks that occur at scales larger than individual dunes.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Copyright © 2014 by the American Geophysical Union.

Keywords

aeolian dunes, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), computational fluid dynamics (CFD)

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Date Posted: 11 November 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.