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Journal Articles Geophysical Research Letters Year : 2020

Spatial and Temporal Development of Incipient Dunes

R. C. Ewing
  • Function : Author
A. Gunn
  • Function : Author
D. Jerolmack
  • Function : Author
B. Andreotti


In zones of loose sand, wind-blown sand dunes emerge due the linear instability of a flat sedimentary bed. This instability has been studied in experiments and numerical models but rarely in the field, due to the large time and length scales involved. We examine dune formation at the upwind margin of the White Sands Dune Field in New Mexico (USA), using 4 years of lidar topographic data to follow the spatial and temporal development of incipient dunes. Data quantify dune wavelength, growth rate, and propagation velocity and also the characteristic length scale associated with the growth process. We show that all these measurements are in quantitative agreement with predictions from linear stability analysis. This validation makes it possible to use the theory to reliably interpret dune-pattern characteristics and provide quantitative constraints on associated wind regimes and sediment properties, where direct local measurements are not available or feasible.
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Dates and versions

insu-03584744 , version 1 (25-06-2022)





C. Gadal, C. Narteau, R. C. Ewing, A. Gunn, D. Jerolmack, et al.. Spatial and Temporal Development of Incipient Dunes. Geophysical Research Letters, 2020, 47, ⟨10.1029/2020GL088919⟩. ⟨insu-03584744⟩
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