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Researchers Explore Formation Mechanism and Control of Wind-blown Sand Hazards along Lanzhou-Xinjiang High-speed Railway
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The Lanzhou-Xinjiang High-speed Railway (LXHSR) runs through four strong windy areas where land surfaces are all featured by Gobi. The threat from wind-blown sand/gravel by extremely strong winds in these areas endangers the safety operation of the railway. 

A research team from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) conducted continuous field observation and experimental research on the wind-blown sand processes and sand prevention technology in the Gobi areas under extremely strong winds along the LXHSR. 

Their results were published in Science China Earth Sciences on Dec. 14, 2022. 

According to the researchers, cold northern airflows over the Tianshan mountain range are accelerated by the "narrow pipe effect" and " downslope effect" as they pass over complex terrain comprising passes, gullies, and proluvial fans. Consequently, the wind intensity often increases two- to threefold. 

In the Gobi areas with extremely strong winds, sand grains can be lifted as high as 9 m from the ground, and the sand transport rate decreases exponentially with increasing height. The saltation height of sand particles can reach 2-3 m, which is determined by both wind speed and particle size.  

Sand control materials, suitable for the Gobi areas with extremely strong winds, were screened and developed. Furthermore, a comprehensive sand control system was established, featuring sand-blocking fence comprised of multiple rows, and high, vertical checkerboard sand-fixing barriers. The installed system reduced sand transport rate by 87.87% and significantly decreasing the sand deposition along the LXHSR. 

This research promotes insights into Gobi wind-blown sand physics and provides a theoretical reference for wind-blown sand control in Gobi areas under extremely strong winds. 



Wang Tao  


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