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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #232115

Title: Laboratory wind tunnel testing of three commonly used saltation impact sensors

item Van Pelt, Robert - Scott

Submitted to: Trade Journal Publication
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/26/2009
Publication Date: 9/1/2009
Citation: Van Pelt, R.S., Peters, P., Visser, S. 2009. Laboratory wind tunnel testing of three commonly used saltation impact sensors. Aeolian Research. 1(1-2):55-62.

Interpretive Summary: Advances in Electronic Data Acquisition Systems have accelerated in recent years. Field instrumentation that can record data in real-time have also gained increasing acceptance and are widely used. Limitations of field instrumentation must be documented to prevent erroneous data and conclusions. We tested three saltation impact sensors that are frequently used to study wind erosion under controlled conditions in a laboratory wind tunnel in order to document their relative strengths and weaknesses and to determine if they could be used interchangeably. From the results of the tests, we concluded that these instruments were relatively insensitive to very fine sand, should not be used to quantify rates of wind erosion, and should only be used to compare where and when wind erosion actively occurred during a high wind event.

Technical Abstract: Electronic sensors that record individual impacts from saltating particles are used with increasing frequency in wind erosion field studies. Little is known about the limitations of these instruments or comparability of data collected with them. We tested the three most commonly used Saltation Impact Sensors (SIS), the Saltiphone, The Sensit, and the Safire in laboratory wind tunnels at wind speeds of 7.5, 10, and 15 m/s using glass beads of 7 known diameter ranges from 53 to 420 microns, Kootwijkerzand drift sand, and a simulated rainfall of 100 mm/hr. We found that the SIS were not equal in their sensitivity to the smaller diameter particles and that they also exhibited varying sensitivities to raindrop impact. In general, the Sensit was the most sensitive instrument to smaller particles and the least sensitive to raindrop impacts. Radial bias existed for the Sensit and the Safire, both cylindrically designed instruments. Within the replicates for a given type of SIS, inter-instrument variability was large and we concluded that SIS should not be used to quantify mass flux and should only be used to study spatial and temporal patterns of saltation.