Ping-pong ball avalanche experiments

Authors: McElwaine, J.; Nishimura, K.

Source: Annals of Glaciology, Volume 32, Number 1, January 2001 , pp. 241-250(10)

Publisher: International Glaciological Society

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Abstract:

Ping-pong ball avalanche experiments have been carried out for the last 3 years at the Miyanomori ski jump in Sapporo, Japan, to study three-dimensional granular flows. Up to 550 000 balls were released near the top of the landing slope. The balls then flowed past video cameras positioned close to the flow, which measured individual ball velocities in three dimensions, and air-pressure tubes at different heights. The flows developed a complicated three-dimensional structure with a distinct head and tail, lobes and "eyes". "Eyes" have been observed in laboratory granular flow experiments, and the other features are similar not only to snow avalanches, but also to other large-scale geophysical flows. The velocities attained showed a remarkable increase with the number of released balls. A power law for this relation is derived by similarity arguments. The air-pressure data are used to deduce the structure of the airflow around the avalanche and, in conjunction with the kinetic theory of granular matter, to estimate the balance of forces in the avalanche head.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756401781819526

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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