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Pollution dispersion research aids understanding of 2002 break-up of Antarctic ozone hole
Date:5/24/2010

The eruption of the volcano in Iceland has drawn attention to air flow patterns, as airlines lost millions of dollars and travelers remained stranded for days to weeks, as particles from the natural disaster traveled over Europe, forcing closures of major airports.

The flow of particles, although seemingly random, can be characterized more effectively, according to work done by Virginia Tech's Shane Ross of the engineering science and mechanics (ESM) department and his colleague Francois Lekien of cole Polytechnique, Universit Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, who reported their findings in the publication Chaos. http://chaos.aip.org/chaoeh/v20/i1

Their research "will aid scientists and engineers in understanding and in controlling this type of global-scale phenomena, such as pollution dispersion in the atmosphere and the ocean, and large-scale transport of biological organisms, including airborne plant pathogens and respiratory disease agents," said Ishwar Puri, head of the ESM department at Virginia Tech.

For example, the current British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, might be modeled using Ross and Lekien's findings to provide greater insight into how the particles might be dragged into the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current.

In explaining how they conducted their research on the flow of particles, Ross and Lekien said they employed existing scientific principles of Lagrangian coherent structures, which reveals the separation of the atmosphere into dynamically distinct regions, to investigate the shapes of geophysical flow patterns. http://www.esm.vt.edu/person.php?id=10139

They used the 2002 discovery of the Antarctic Hole in their work because they viewed it as a "prototype atmospheric event" allowing for their studies on topological divisions on the mixing and transport of atmospheric tracers.


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Contact: Lynn Nystrom
tansy@vt.edu
540-231-4371
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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