Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 415–446 | Cite as

Dispersion of a Passive Scalar Fluctuating Plume in a Turbulent Boundary Layer. Part I: Velocity and Concentration Measurements

  • Chiara Nironi
  • Pietro Salizzoni
  • Massimo Marro
  • Patrick Mejean
  • Nathalie Grosjean
  • Lionel Soulhac


The prediction of the probability density function (PDF) of a pollutant concentration within atmospheric flows is of primary importance in estimating the hazard related to accidental releases of toxic or flammable substances and their effects on human health. This need motivates studies devoted to the characterization of concentration statistics of pollutants dispersion in the lower atmosphere, and their dependence on the parameters controlling their emissions. As is known from previous experimental results, concentration fluctuations are significantly influenced by the diameter of the source and its elevation. In this study, we aim to further investigate the dependence of the dispersion process on the source configuration, including source size, elevation and emission velocity. To that end we study experimentally the influence of these parameters on the statistics of the concentration of a passive scalar, measured at several distances downwind of the source. We analyze the spatial distribution of the first four moments of the concentration PDFs, with a focus on the variance, its dissipation and production and its spectral density. The information provided by the dataset, completed by estimates of the intermittency factors, allow us to discuss the role of the main mechanisms controlling the scalar dispersion and their link to the form of the PDF. The latter is shown to be very well approximated by a Gamma distribution, irrespective of the emission conditions and the distance from the source. Concentration measurements are complemented by a detailed description of the velocity statistics, including direct estimates of the Eulerian integral length scales from two-point correlations, a measurement that has been rarely presented to date.


Atmospheric turbulence Eulerian integral length scale Gamma distribution Intermittency  Pollutant dispersion Wind-tunnel experiments 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to D. Cane for his support in artworks and to O. Marsden for carefully reading the manuscript and providing a critical review of its content.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Nironi
    • 1
  • Pietro Salizzoni
    • 1
  • Massimo Marro
    • 1
  • Patrick Mejean
    • 1
  • Nathalie Grosjean
    • 1
  • Lionel Soulhac
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Mécanique des Fluides et d’Acoustique, University of Lyon, CNRS UMR 5509Ecole Centrale de Lyon, INSA LyonEcullyFrance

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