Topographic change and numerically modelled near surface wind flow in a bowl blowout

Thomas A.G. Smyth, Patrick A. Hesp, Ian J. Walker, Thad Wasklewicz, Paul A. Gares, Alexander B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A number of studies have measured and numerically modelled near surface wind velocity over a range of aeolian landforms and made suppositions about topographic change and landform evolution. However, the precise measurement and correlation of flow dynamics and resulting topographic change have not yet been fully realized. Here, using repeated high-resolution terrestrial laser scanning and numerical flow modelling within a bowl blowout, we statistically analyse the relationship between wind speed, vertical wind velocity, turbulent kinetic energy and topographic change over a 33-day period. Topographic results showed that erosion and deposition occurred in distinct regions within the blowout. Deposition occurred in the upwind third of the deflation basin, where wind flow became separated and velocity and turbulent kinetic energy decreased, and erosion occurred in the downwind third of the deflation basin, where wind flow reattached and aligned with incident wind direction. Statistical analysis of wind flow and topographic change indicated that wind speed had a strong correlation with overall topographic change and that vertical wind velocity (including both positive and negative) displayed a strong correlation with negative topographic change (erosion). Only weak or very weak correlations exist for wind flow parameters and positive topographic change (accretion). This study demonstrates that wind flow modelling using average incident wind conditions can be utilized successfully to identify regions of overall change and erosion for a complex aeolian landform, but not to identify and predict regions where solely accretion will occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1988-1999
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • bowl blowout
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • terrestrial laser scanning
  • topographic change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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