Airflow dynamics in transverse dune interdunes

  • Matthew Baddock

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Aeolian dune interdunes have been relatively ignored when compared with the research attention on the morphodynamics of the dune bodies themselves. This neglect is in spite of the possible significance of interdune dynamics for the geomorphology of the sand dune system as a whole, especially with regard to dune spacing. This project involved the collection of geomorphologically relevant airflow data for four relatively simple transverse dune interdunes. The study locations were chosen in order to sample interdunes with different size and surface type characteristics, the dynamics of which were investigated for when incident flow was normal to the upwind crest. The findings confirm existing models of aeolian dune lee-side flow in terms of flow re-attachment length and recovery attributes. A consistent pattern of increasing near-surface velocity downwind of re-attachment provides a mechanism for interdunes as sand-free features. Where studies for comparison from other aeolian examples are limited, the field-measured turbulence shows the importance of the shear layer as a source of turbulence, and agrees with studies from subaqueous bedforms. The importance of shear stress variability and the possible contribution of turbulence structures to the maintenance of sediment transport at re-attachment where velocity and mean stress is low or negative is also emphasised. At the downwind edge of interdunes, the mean and turbulent velocity properties, and therefore morphodynamics, vary according to the interdune size. In this case, interdune length leads to greater recovery, and a balance exists in this region between the recovering flow at the surface, dissipating wake from above and the obstacle effect of the dune. The flow dynamics are characterised for the different types of interdune observed. Dynamics accordant with the flow response model are seen to characterise the interdune setting with the closest spacing. The occurrence of other “extended” aeolian interdunes with a length well over that for flow separation demanded the development of a new descriptive model to characterise the dynamics therein. In this model, the variation in near-surface flow allowed process zones to be identified through the interdune. The geomorphological significance of the processes dominating each zone are discussed and comparisons are made between the flow response case and the new interdune model from this study
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Leicester
SupervisorIan Livingstone (Supervisor) & Giles F S Wiggs (Supervisor)

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