The Formation of Longitudinal Sand Dunes by Large Helical Eddies in the Atmosphere

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  • 1 Air Resources Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Laboratory, ESSA, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
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Abstract

It is suggested that helical roll vortices in the atmosphere are responsible for the formation of the longitudinal sand dunes that cover over half of the area of the large deserts of the world. The dunes are aligned in the direction of the prevailing wind and are spaced ∼2 km apart. Observations in the atmosphere and in the laboratory, and hydrodynamic stability theory, indicate that dominant forms of motion in the boundary layer of the atmosphere are counter-rotating helical roll vortices aligned along the wind and having diameters approximately equal to the thickness of the boundary layer. The necessary conditions for the formation of these roll vortices are fulfilled over large deserts and their spacings agree with the observed spacings of the dunes.

Abstract

It is suggested that helical roll vortices in the atmosphere are responsible for the formation of the longitudinal sand dunes that cover over half of the area of the large deserts of the world. The dunes are aligned in the direction of the prevailing wind and are spaced ∼2 km apart. Observations in the atmosphere and in the laboratory, and hydrodynamic stability theory, indicate that dominant forms of motion in the boundary layer of the atmosphere are counter-rotating helical roll vortices aligned along the wind and having diameters approximately equal to the thickness of the boundary layer. The necessary conditions for the formation of these roll vortices are fulfilled over large deserts and their spacings agree with the observed spacings of the dunes.

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