Electrostatic force on saltating sand

  • Schmidt D
  • Schmidt R
  • Dent J
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In blizzards and sandstorms, wind transport of particles is associated with separation of electrostatic charge. Moving particles develop charge of sign opposite the electrostatic charge on stationary surface particles. This electrification produces forces in addition to the gravitational and fluid friction forces that determine trajectories for particles being transported in saltation. Evaluating electrostatic forces requires the electric field strength very near the saltation surface and charge-to-mass ratios for the moving particles. In a low-level blowing sand event we measured an average charge-to-mass ratio of +60 uC/kg on the saltating kg particles at 5-cm height and a maximum electric field of + 166 kV/m at 1.7-cm height, in wind gusts near 12 m/s at 1.5-m height. The electrostatic force estimated from these measurements was equal in magnitude to the gravitational force on the saltating particles. Including electrostatic forces in the equations of motion for saltating particles may help explain discrepancies between measurements and models of saltation transpor

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  • D. S. Schmidt

  • R. A. Schmidt

  • J. D. Dent

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