Width, height and slope relationships and aerodynamic maintenance of barchans

Patrick A. Hesp, Kathleen Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


The allometric relationship between the height of barchan dunes and horn to horn widths is re-examined. The addition of new data from barchans in the Namib Desert and elsewhere confirms the relationship that the height of a barchan is approximately one-tenth of the width of the dune. Height and width of the dune are closely linked to the three-dimensional morphology of the dune, in particular, the relatively constant mean angles of around 11 °at which the side slopes of the dune are maintained. We suggest that the 3-D barchan form is directly controlled by aerodynamic processes. Constant feedback between three-dimensional stoss face (windward) shape of the dune, slipface height and horn to horn width, and shear stress produces an equilibrium dune form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Barchans
  • Dune height
  • Horn width
  • Morphometric relationships


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