Cohesion-induced enhancement of aeolian saltation

© 2019 EPFL

© 2019 EPFL

Cohesion-induced enhancement of saltation fluxes and the occurrence of hysteresis may have implications for dust emission from soils with cohesive crusts, blowing-snow sublimation over snow surfaces, and aeolian transport on Titan, where tholin grains formed of solid methane are thought to be very cohesive

A collaborative work between EPFL (CRYOS and SLAB), the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) about the effect of cohesion on aeolian saltation has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Wind-driven saltation of granular material plays a key role in various geophysical processes on Earth, Mars, Venus, and Titan. Although inter-particle cohesion is known to limit the number of grains lifted from the surface through aerodynamic entrainment and granular splash, the role of cohesion in the development of saltation from onset to steady state is still poorly understood. Using a numerical model based on the discrete element method, the authors show that saltation over cohesive beds sustains itself at wind speeds one order of magnitude smaller than those necessary to initiate it, giving rise to hysteresis in which the occurrence of transport depends on the history of the wind. Their results further suggest that saltation over cohesive beds requires much longer distances to saturate, thereby increasing the size of the smallest stable bed forms. These findings have implications for dune formation, dust emission, and snow sublimation over cohesive beds


Comola, F., Gaume, J., Kok, J. F., and Lehning, M. ( 2019), Cohesion‐induced enhancement of aeolian saltation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 46,