Measuring aeolian sand transport using acoustic sensors

Poortinga, Ate; Rheenen, Hans van; Ellis, J.T.; Sherman, D.J.


Acoustic sensors are frequently used to measure aeolian saltation. Different approaches are used to process the signals from these instruments. The goal of this paper is to describe and discuss a method to measure aeolian saltation with acoustic sensors. In a laboratory experiment, we measured the output from an advanced signal processing scheme on the circuit board of the saltiphone. We use a software implementation of this processing scheme to re-analyse data from four miniphones obtained during a field experiment. It is shown that a set of filters remove background noise outside the frequency spectrum of aeolian saltation (at 8. kHz), whereas signals within this frequency spectrum are amplified. The resulting analogue signal is a proxy of the energy. Using an AC pulse convertor, this signal can be converted into a digital and analogue count signal or an analogue energy signal, using a rectifier and integrator. Spatio-temporal correlation between field deployed miniphones increases by using longer integration times for signal processing. To quantify aeolian grain impact, it is suggested to use the analogue energy output, as this mode is able to detect changes in frequency and amplitude. The analogue and digital count signals are able to detect an increase in frequency, but are not able to detect an increase in signal amplitude. We propose a two-stage calibration scheme consisting of (1) a factory calibration, to set the frequency spectrum of the sensor and (2) a standardized drop-test conducted before and after the experiment to evaluate the response of the sensor.