Despite its significance for inception of grain transport by wind, the initial dislodgement of grains from a static surface by aerodynamic forces of drag and lift in the absence of grain collision has received little attention. This paper describes a series of wind-tunnel experiments in which the erosion of narrow strips of loose grains from the roughened surface of a flat plate exposed to a range of wind speeds was examined.

The progressive downwind development of the boundary layer over the plate provided a range of airflow conditions which permitted systematic evaluation of grain entrainment rates arising from purely aerodynamic forces. Use of closely graded size fractions in flat, single grain layers resting on identical, fixed grain support eliminated the effects of surface irregularities and impacts from saltation. Results show that erosion of strips of loose grains develops with time according to an inverse exponential function in which the entrainment rate time constant relates to Shields dimensionless shear stress function. An empirical expression defining aerodynamic entrainment rate in terms of rate of strip erosion is derived and comparisons are made between present and published data. The need for additional data to resolve several questions raised by the present investigation is stressed.

In addition, a simple, objective technique for accurate determination of the aerodynamic entrainment threshold of any loose, granular sediment is proposed.