Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 919–942 | Cite as

Statistical properties of concentration fluctuations in two merging plumes

Original Article


The statistics of the fluctuating concentration field within a plume is important in the analysis of atmospheric dispersion of toxic, inflammable and odorous gases. Previous work has tended to focus on concentration fluctuations in single plumes released in the surface layer or at ground level and there is a general lack of information about the mixing of two adjacent plumes and how the statistical properties of the concentration fluctuations are modified in these circumstances. In this work, data from wind tunnel experiments are used to analyse the variance, skewness, kurtosis, intermittency, probability density function and power spectrum of the concentration field during the mixing of two identical plumes and results are compared with those obtained for an equivalent single plume. The normalised variance, skewness and kurtosis on the centre-lines of the combined plume increase with distance downwind of the stack and, in the two-source configuration, takes lower values than those found in the single plumes. The results reflect the merging process at short range, which is least protracted for cases in which the sources are in-line or up to 30\(^{\circ }\) off-line. At angles of 45\(^{\circ }\) and more, the plumes are effectively side-by-side during the merging process and the interaction between the vortex pairs in each plume is strong. Vertical asymmetry is observed between the upper and the lower parts of the plumes, with the upper part having greater intermittency (i.e. the probability that no plume material is present) and a more pronounced tail to the concentration probability distribution. This asymmetry tends to diminish at greater distances from the source but occurs in both buoyant and neutral plumes and is believed to be associated with the ‘bending-over’ of the emission in the cross-flow and the vortex pair that this generates. The results allowed us to identify three phases in plume development. The first, very near the stack, is dominated by turbulence generated within the plume and characterised by concentration spectra with distinct peaks corresponding to scales comparable with those of the counter-rotating vortex pair. A second phase follows at somewhat greater distances downwind, in which there are significant contributions to the concentration fluctuations from both the turbulence internal to the plume and the external turbulence. The third phase is one in which the concentration fluctuations appear to be controlled by the external turbulence present in the ambient flow.


Concentration fluctuations Two-plume interaction Intermittency Wind tunnel simulations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR-ISACIstituto di Scienze dell’Atmosfera e del ClimaLecceItaly
  2. 2.EnFlo, FEPSUniversity of SurreyGuildford UK

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