A wind tunnel study of aeolian sediment transport response to unsteady winds

Bailiang Li*, Cheryl McKenna Neuman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Although moderate attention has been paid to the response of the aeolian mass transport rate to wind gusts, it is still unclear how the particle size and volumetric concentration affect this relation. Very little is known about the response time of the particle speed, and specifically, how the sensor scale and elevation affect measurements of this variable. The present study addresses this knowledge gap through a series of wind tunnel experiments in which a gusty wind was generated by programming the fan motor to adjust to a randomly selected rpm every 10. s. Beds consisting of either medium or coarse sand were investigated through synchronous, co-located measurements of the local wind speed and particle speed/count rate obtained via a customized laser Doppler anemometry (LDA) system. The vertically integrated sand transport rate (Q) and the wind speed in the freestream were quantified using a passive sand trap and pitot tube, respectively. The results of the experiments indicate that the response of the aeolian transport system to wind gusts is generally faster in terms of the particle speed than the mass transport rate, while the degree of correlation is found to vary with the sensor elevation, as well as with the particle size and volumetric concentration. In essence, the coupling within the transport system is demonstrated to be strongly scale dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • LDA
  • Response time
  • Sediment-fluid interactions
  • Two-phase flow


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