Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

An improved particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) technique to evaluate the velocity field of saltating particles


Velocity is a key parameter characterizing the movement of saltating particles. High-speed photography is an efficient method to record the velocity. But, manually determining the relevant information from these photographs is quite laborious. However, particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) can be used to measure the instantaneous velocity in fluids using tracer particles. The tracer particles have three basic features in fluids: similar movement patterns within a small region, a uniform particle distribution, and high particle density. Unfortunately, the saltation of sand particles in air is a stochastic process, and PTV has not yet been able to accurately determine the velocity field in a cloud of blowing sand. The aim of the present study was to develop an improved PTV technique to measure the downwind (horizontal) and vertical velocities of saltating sand. To demonstrate the feasibility of this new technique, we used it to investigate two-dimensional saltation of particles above a loose sand surface in a wind tunnel. We analyzed the properties of the saltating particles, including the probability distribution of particle velocity, variations in the mean velocity as a function of height, and particle turbulence. By automating much of the analysis, the improved PTV method can satisfy the requirement for a large sample size and can measure the velocity field of blowing sand more accurately than previously-used techniques. The results shed new light on the complicated mechanisms involved in sand saltation.


high-speed photography; image processing; particle image velocimetry; velocity distribution; saltation

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