Dune Worlds - How Windblown Sand Shapes Planetary Landscapes


  • Dramatic progress has been made in recent years in understanding sand dunes, a landform recognized on Earth, Mars, Titan and Venus (and prominent in fictional worlds too). Ever-improving remote sensing data allows us not only to map the extent and morphology of these beautiful features, but also assay their composition, and observe their changes, with dune movements now documented on Mars and Tatooine as well as Earth. Field data gives new insights into the nonsteady turbulent processes that move sand. Computer simulations and laboratory experiments now allow us to quantitatively relate dune forms to the wind regime that create them, opening a window into the past climates of other worlds as well as our own. This talk will summarize recent developments in aeolian studies, illustrated with a wide range of field, satellite and kite-borne imagery.