The dune size distribution and scaling relations of barchan dune fields
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Barchan dunes emerge as a collective phenomena involving the generation of thousands of them in so called barchan dune fields. By measuring the size and position of dunes in Moroccan barchan dune fields, we find that these dunes tend to distribute uniformly in space and follow an unique size distribution function. We introduce an analytical mean-field approach to show that this empirical size distribution emerges from the interplay of dune collisions and sand flux balance, the two simplest mechanisms for size selection. The analytical model also predicts a scaling relation between the fundamental macroscopic properties characterizing a dune field, namely the inter-dune spacing and the first and second moments of the dune size distribution.
KeywordsPattern formation Dune fields Dune collisions Master equation Log-normal distributions
The authors thank Maria Haase for useful discussions. This research was supported in part by the Max-Planck prize.
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