Vortex ripples in sand are studied experimentally in a one-dimensional setup with periodic boundary conditions. The nonlinear evolution, far from the onset of instability, is analyzed in the framework of a simple model developed for homogeneous patterns. The interaction function describing the mass transport between neighboring ripples is extracted from experimental runs using a recently proposed method for data analysis, and the predictions of the model are compared to the experiment. An analytic explanation of the wavelength selection mechanism in the model is provided, and the width of the stable band of ripples is measured.
Bibliographical noteCopyright (2002) American Physical Society