Dune behavior in a multidirectional wind regime : White Sands Dune Field, New Mexico
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As with most dune fields, the White Sands Dune Field in New Mexico forms in a wind regime that is not unimodal. In this study, dune behavior at White Sands was documented from a time series of five lidar-derived digital elevation models (DEM) and compared to a record of wind direction and speed during the same period. For the study period of June 2007 - June 2010, 244 sand-transporting wind events occurred and define a dominant wind mode from the SW and lesser modes from the NNW and SSE. Based upon difference maps and tracing of dune brinklines, overall dune behavior consists of migration to the NE, but with along-crest migration of dune sinuosity to the SE. Permutations of the DEMs allow matching specific dune behavior with wind modes. The SW winds are transverse to dune orientations and cause most forward migration. The NNW winds cause along-crest migration of dune sinuosity and low stoss bedforms, as well as SE migration of NE-trending dune terminations. The SSE winds cause ephemeral dune deformation, especially crestal slipface reversals. Dune deformation occurs because of unequal deposition along the lee face as a function of the incidence angle formed between the wind and the local brinkline orientation. Incidence-angle control on dune deformation and types of lee-face surface processes allows for an idealized model for White Sands dunes. The dunes behave as complex systems in which each wind event deforms the dune shape, this new shape then serves as the configuration for the next wind event.