Atmospheric dispersion modelling: an introduction to practical applications

Barratt, Rod (2001). Atmospheric dispersion modelling: an introduction to practical applications. Business and the Environment: Practitioner Series. London, UK: Earthscan.



Air quality is far from being a new concern but remains an issue demanding increasing attention. The dispersion and ground-level concentration of pollutants are determined by the complex interactions of many factors. These include meteorological conditions at or near the site, the topography of the surrounding areas, physical characteristics of stack or other emission points as well as the physical and chemical characteristics of the pollutants. Many measurements of the concentrations of specific air pollutants at selected monitoring locations are made throughout the world. However, there is always a need to predict future air pollution levels or to estimate air quality where no monitoring data are available. Computer models are a relatively inexpensive and expedient way of providing such air quality information. They also provide an important planning tool because of their ability to evaluate a variety of options for managing air quality. Projects that either introduce new sources of emissions or aim to reduce emissions require careful scrutiny to assess any risks as far as possible. By employing tools such as modelling and exposure assessment, risk based decision-making considers the current and potential risks posed by a release. This knowledge is then used to make decisions about corrective action required for processes, as well as implications for site management and emergency response. For many sources, this will typically require mathematical modelling of the changes in ambient concentrations that result from the changes.
Official guidelines from government bodies note that the selection of models and the interpretation of their results are not straightforward. This book aims to clarify some of these points. Practical examples are included throughout, and illustrations of modelling software are integrated in the text. Further aims of this book are as follows:
• Describe the characteristics influencing the transport of harmful materials through the air.
• Outline the general theoretical principles underpinning dispersion modelling.
• Introduce several types of model used for air quality management.
• Identify the limitations of dispersion models.
• Provide the skills to use simple dispersion models.
• Enable the reader to understand and interpret the output from models of real problems involving continuous or accidental releases to the atmosphere.
The first four chapters place modelling in the context of the current practice of air quality management, and outline sufficient theoretical background to allow the novice modeller to understand the requirements and limitations of input data. Chapter 5 outlines basic features of the Gaussian plume model, although other books go into more theoretical detail on this. The next three chapters follow the staged approach to modelling, starting with simple models and progressing to refined models for both continuous and emergency releases. Chapter 9 focuses on how models match reality and illustrates validation issues, while guidelines for good practice conclude the book.
As the title implies, this book is intended to offer a practical introduction to atmospheric dispersion modelling. The serious mathematician is encouraged to explore other books that deal with the theoretical background, while practitioners will need to focus on issues relevant to their own models and applications.

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