On all sandy coastlines fringed by dunes, understanding localised air flow allows us to examine the potential sand transfer between the beach and dunes by wind-blown (Aeolian) action. Traditional thinking into this phenomenon had previously included only onshore winds as effective drivers of this transfer. Recent research by the authors, however, has shown that offshore air-flow too can contribute significantly, through lee-side back eddies, to the overall windblown sediment budget to coastal dunes. Under rising sea levels and increased erosion scenarios, this is an important process in any post-storm recovery of sandy beaches. Until now though, full visualisation in 3D of this newly recognised mechanism in offshore flows has not been achieved. Here we show for the first time this return flow eddy system, using 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling, and reveal the presence of complex corkscrew vortices and other phenomena. The work highlights the importance of relatively small surface undulations in the dune crest which act to induce the spatial patterns of airflow (and transport) found on the adjacent beach.
Jackson, D. W. T., Beyers, M., Delgado-Fernandez, I., Baas, A. C. W., Cooper, A. J., & Lynch, K. (2013). Airflow reversal and alternating corkscrew vortices in foredune wake zones during perpendicular and oblique offshore winds. Geomorphology, 187, 86-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.12.037