Protocols for characterizing aeolian mass-flux profiles

J. T. Ellis*, B. Li, E. J. Farrell, D. J. Sherman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a protocol for characterizing and analyzing the vertical mass-flux profiles above erodible beds in natural aeolian environments. Three main areas of methodological inconsistencies are explored, using two field data sets, to demonstrate the variability of results caused by methodological choices associated with: (1) inconsistent representation of sediment trap elevations; (2) erroneous or sub-optimal regression analysis; and (3) inadequate or ambiguous bed elevation measurements. The recommended methodology is physically based, produces results that most closely represent the measured data, and will permit results from different field and laboratory studies to be compared using a standardized convention. The recommended protocol suggests the following: (1) measure vertical flux profiles with as many traps as feasible with shorter traps near the bed; (2) measure bed elevation before, during, and after data collection; (3) use the geometric mean to represent trap centers; (4) use the saltation-enhanced aerodynamic roughness length when approximating the bottom elevation of traps deployed at the bed (0 mm); (5) plot vertical mass-flux data with height above the bed as the independent variable; and (6) fit vertical mass-flux curves using non-linear, exponential curve fitting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalAeolian Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aeolian saltation
  • Field-based measurements
  • Non-linear regression analysis
  • Sampling methods
  • Sediment traps

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