Contrasting the Use of Single-Realization versus Ensemble-Average Atmospheric Dispersion Solutions for Chemical and Biological Defense Analyses

– Bieringer, P. E., A. J. Annunzio, N. Platt, G. Bieberbach, J. Hannan 2014 | J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 53, No. 6., 1399–1415. doi:


Chemical and biological (CB) defense systems require significant testing and evaluation before they are deployed for real-time use. Because it is not feasible to evaluate these systems with open-air testing alone, researchers rely on numerical models to supplement the defense-system analysis process. These numerical models traditionally describe the statistical properties of CB-agent atmospheric transport and dispersion (AT&D). While the statistical representation of AT&D is appropriate to use in some CB defense analyses, it is not appropriate to use this class of dispersion model for all such analyses. Many of these defense-system analyses require AT&D models that are capable of simulating dispersion properties with very short time averaging periods that more closely emulate a “single realization” of a contaminant or CB agent dispersing in a turbulent atmosphere.

The latter class of AT&D models is superior to the former for performing CB-system analyses when one or more of the following factors are important in the analysis: high-frequency sampling of the contaminant, spatial and temporal correlations within the contaminant concentration field, and nonlinear operations performed on the contaminant concentration. This paper describes and contrasts these AT&D modeling tools and provides specific examples in which utilizing ensembles of single realizations of CB-agent AT&D is advantageous over using the statistical, “ensemble-average” representation of the agent AT&D. These examples demonstrate the importance of using an AT&D modeling tool that is appropriate for
the analysis.

Download & Read Publication (PDF)