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An inverse method for determining source characteristics for emergency response applications

Rudd, A., Robins, A. G., Lepley, J. J. and Belcher, S. (2012) An inverse method for determining source characteristics for emergency response applications. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. ISSN 0006-8314 (In Press)

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s10546-012-9712-y


Following a malicious or accidental atmospheric release in an outdoor environment it is essential for first responders to ensure safety by identifying areas where human life may be in danger. For this to happen quickly, reliable information is needed on the source strength and location, and the type of chemical agent released. We present here an inverse modelling technique that estimates the source strength and location of such a release, together with the uncertainty in those estimates, using a limited number of measurements of concentration from a network of chemical sensors considering a single, steady, ground-level source. The technique is evaluated using data from a set of dispersion experiments conducted in a meteorological wind tunnel, where simultaneous measurements of concentration time series were obtained in the plume from a ground-level point-source emission of a passive tracer. In particular, we analyze the response to the number of sensors deployed and their arrangement, and to sampling and model errors. We find that the inverse algorithm can generate acceptable estimates of the source characteristics with as few as four sensors, providing these are well-placed and that the sampling error is controlled. Configurations with at least three sensors in a profile across the plume were found to be superior to other arrangements examined. Analysis of the influence of sampling error due to the use of short averaging times showed that the uncertainty in the source estimates grew as the sampling time decreased. This demonstrated that averaging times greater than about 5min (full scale time) lead to acceptable accuracy.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:27601
Uncontrolled Keywords:Dispersion modelling – Gaussian plume model – Inverse problem – Uncertainties – Wind-tunnel studies

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