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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA
Doing Business As Name:University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
PD/PI:
  • Douglas Sherman
  • (205) 348-5047
  • sherman@ua.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Pei Zhang
Award Date:07/10/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 248,115
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 248,115
  • FY 2020=$248,115
Start Date:09/01/2020
End Date:12/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Granular Electrification in Aeolian Sand Transport: Paradox or Enigma?
Federal Award ID Number:2027064
DUNS ID:045632635
Parent DUNS ID:808245794
Program:Geomorphology & Land-use Dynam
Program Officer:
  • Justin Lawrence
  • (703) 292-2425
  • jlawrenc@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:801 University Blvd.
City:Tuscaloosa
State:AL
ZIP:35487-0001
County:
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:07

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
Street:801 University Blvd.
City:Tuscaloosa
State:AL
ZIP:35478-0104
County:Peterson
Country:US
Cong. District:07

Abstract at Time of Award

Wind-blown sand is a well known, natural hazard in many environments. Drifting sand threatens settlements and infrastructure, and enhances dust emissions, with a suite of consequential human health and environmental degradation issues. Less understood is the generation of static electricity caused by sand transport. The induced electric charges may be strong enough to enhance dust generation, alter sediment transport rates; cause flashover and breakdown in transmission lines; or interrupt signal transmission. This project aims to measure, for the first time, details of granular electrification in a natural environment and to use the data to develop better transport models that account for electrification. Success here contributes to understanding and predicting the evolution and migration of common sedimentary aeolian systems such as dune fields. Projections of the impacts of climate change include increased desertification and remobilization of currently stabilized grasslands, such as the Nebraska Sandhills. Better sand transport models will be valuable tools for planning adaptations to manage future sand drift. The project contributes to the infrastructure of science by developing an international research collaboration network involving six countries and training future scientists, including a female Ph.D. student and several M.S. and undergraduate students. The project partners with the Center for Science Education, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research to develop teaching materials and videos for STEM training; work with the Alabama Science in Motion program to conduct workshops for training teachers about Earth and Space science; and deliver simple class demonstrations of fundamentals of sand transport and electrification. This project will conduct a comprehensive field campaign to elucidate the influence of granular electrification on aeolian sand transport rates and use the results to develop better sand transport models that can be applied to current and future terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. Data will be obtained to describe wind speeds; sand transport; granular, atmospheric, and surficial electrical charges; saltation intensity; sand size and moisture content; and air temperature and relative humidity. The data will be analyzed with multiple regression and other statistical methods to quantify the magnitude and direction of electrification effects. The experimental design will ensure that the resulting data set will be of the highest standards of quality and at a level of detail seldom (if ever) achieved. Success will lead to more robust transport rates models that include granular electrification terms, leading to enhanced ability to understand the dynamics of sand drift, dune building, aeolian abrasion, and dust generation. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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