The effect of building geometry on the size of aeolian deposition patterns: Scale model experiments at the beach

Daan W. Poppema , Kathelijne M. Wijnberg, Jan P.M. Mulder, Sander E. Vos, Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


In sandy environments, like the beach-dune system, buildings not only affect the airflow, but also the aeolian sediment transport in their surroundings. In this study, we determine how the horizontal size of sediment deposition patterns around buildings depends on the building's dimensions. Four one-day experiments were conducted at the beach using box-shaped scale models. We tested 32 building geometries, where scale model height, width and length ranged between 0.3 and 2.0 m. The deposition patterns were substantial in size: the total length and width of the deposition area were up to an order of magnitude larger than the horizontal building dimensions. It was found that the size of upwind and downwind deposition patterns depended more on the building width perpendicular to the wind direction (w), than on the building height (h). Building length had little influence. Especially the combined effect of w and h correlated well with horizontal deposition size. This is expressed in a new scaling length B for deposition around buildings, with B=w2/3·h1/3. As a first validation, the spatial dimensions of the initial deposition patterns observed around a scale model of 2.5 × 12 × 2.5 m, placed at the beach for five weeks, showed good agreement with those predicted based on B.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103866
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCoastal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Characteristic length scale
  • Obstacles to wind flow
  • Roughness element
  • Sand drift
  • Structure-from-motion photogrammetry
  • Urbanized beach


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