The residence time measures the rate at which a pollutant escapes from a region of interest. Previous studies of urban ventilation have estimated the mean residence time from Eulerian data by assuming a spatially homogeneous pollutant field. Using a large-eddy simulation and a Lagrangian particle model, the residence and exposure times are calculated for an idealized street canyon in the skimming-flow region and a deep street canyon within a realistic urban area. For both domains, the mean residence time is on the order of a canyon circulation time scale, while the mean exposure time, which includes re-entrainment and characterizes the total time spent by a pollutant in a region of interest, is about 20% longer. Intensive quantities such as the Lagrangian visitation factor and return coefficient indicate that re-entrainment is modest. Probability distribution functions of the exposure and residence times are nearly exponential for both domains, in accord with pure diffusion and single-time-scale, vertical-exchange parameterizations. It is argued that, by analogy with Brownian motion, the mean residence and exposure times are set primarily by the mean circulation rather than the turbulence when the flow approximates that within a two-dimensional street canyon.
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