Source Characterization With Atmospheric Boundary Layer Depth

Open Access
Annunzio, Andrew Joseph
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 09, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Sue Ellen Haupt, Thesis Advisor
  • George Spencer Young, Thesis Advisor
  • boundary layer
  • source characterization
  • dispersion
Characterizing the source of a contaminant is a contemporary issue in atmospheric transport and dispersion modeling. In addition to the source parameters, it is also necessary to back-calculate meteorological forcing parameters because they govern the subsequent transport of a contaminant. One aspect that has not been addressed previously is ascertaining the height of the atmospheric boundary layer. The capping inversion at the top of the boundary layer traps the puff by reflecting contaminants back towards the surface, directly impacting surface concentrations. Because the depth of the atmospheric boundary layer varies with time of day, stability, and the horizontal and vertical wind, it is generally difficult to determine. In the Gaussian puff model, a rigid lid is added to the top of the boundary layer to reflect contaminants back towards the surface. From time dependent concentration observations of the puff a Genetic Algorithm characterizes the source strength and location, boundary layer height, wind speed, and wind direction. It is shown that the Genetic Algorithm can back-calculate all these parameters working solely from concentration observations.