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The spatial variation of the maximum possible contaminant concentration from a steady line source

Mole, Nils; Munro, Rick


Nils Mole


When considering the possible hazard or nuisance associated with a release of toxic or malodorous gas into the atmosphere, large concentrations are especially important, but relatively little work has been done on measuring or modelling the probability distribution of large concentrations of a contaminant dispersing in a turbulent flow. We have previously applied statistical extreme-value theory to field experiment measurements, analyzing large concentrations at a handful of positions. We have also been involved in using a related moment-based method to give more comprehensive spatial coverage for a steady line source in a wind tunnel. In the latter case, however, we used a method which would be expected to have shortcomings, and we did not calculate confidence intervals for the estimates. In the present paper we use an improved method, with confidence intervals derived from bootstrapping. Again we analyze the measurements from steady line-source wind-tunnel experiments, with particular emphasis on the spatial variation of the estimated maximum possible concentration. We show that the moment-based method agrees well with maximum-likelihood fitting to exceedances of a high threshold. We find that the centreline maximum concentration, normalized by the centreline mean concentration, increases downwind from a value just greater than 1 near the source, to a peak value of 5–6, before decreasing with distance from the source. Across the plume the maximum concentration only varies slowly for the downwind distances in these experiments. These observations are explained in terms of the physical processes of turbulent advection and molecular diffusion.


Mole, N., & Munro, R. (2019). The spatial variation of the maximum possible contaminant concentration from a steady line source. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 172(1), 67–80.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 14, 2019
Publication Date Jul 1, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 18, 2019
Journal Boundary-Layer Meteorology
Print ISSN 0006-8314
Electronic ISSN 1573-1472
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 172
Issue 1
Pages 67–80
Keywords Atmospheric dispersion; Generalized Pareto distribution; Maximum concentration; Molecular diffusion
Public URL
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