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The utility of an omni-directional photoelectronic sensor device to measure meso-scale variability in aeolian sediment transport activity

Schmutz, Phillip, Briggs, Tynon, Tereszkiewicz, Peter
Aeolian research 2019 v.36 pp. 61-67
acoustics, electronic sensing, field experimentation, models, sediment transport, wind direction, Florida
Electronic sensors (i.e., acoustic, piezoelectric, and photoelectric) have been utilized extensively and effectively in recent years for measuring aeolian transport intensity. The bulk of these studies, however, position the devices in stationary, fixed orientation during field experiments. These practices work fine for shorter, micro-scale field studies; yet, during longer experiments lasting months or even years, a fixed directional orientation is unrealistic due to shifts in wind direction. This issue has ultimately limited the use of electronic sensors for meso-scale aeolian research. In light of this constraint, this paper presents a device to measure aeolian transport activity across a 360-degree azimuthal range. The Rotating Wenglor Device (RWD) was deployed on Santa Rosa Island, Florida for a three-month field study. The data reveal that the prevailing transport activity did not align with the dominant wind direction. The implications of this finding can be further elucidated when analyzing our data using the Fryberger drift potential model. Our findings indicate that the traditional Fryberger method, constructed using our wind data, produced a resultant transport drift towards the northwest; however, the RWD illustrated a resultant transport direction towards the northeast and at a rate three times slower. These finding highlights a major benefit of the RWD as it would produce a more accurate measure of meso-scale transport activity and therefore dune development than models derived strictly from meteorological station data, such as the Fryberger method. An additional advantage of the RWD is that the device operates unattended for extended periods, yet can provide high-resolution data regarding micro-scale transport dynamics.