In the event of a release of toxic gas in the center of London, emergency services personnel would need to determine quickly the extent of the area contaminated. The transport of pollutants by turbulent flow within the complex streets and building architecture of London, United Kingdom, is not straightforward, and we might wonder whether it is at all possible to make a scientifically reasoned decision. Here, we describe recent progress from a major U.K. project, Dispersion of Air Pollution and its Penetration into the Local Environment (DAPPLE; information online at www.dapple.org.uk). In DAPPLE, we focus on the movement of airborne pollutants in cities by developing a greater understanding of atmospheric flow and dispersion within urban street networks. In particular, we carried out full-scale dispersion experiments in central London from 2003 through 2008 to address the extent of the dispersion of tracers following their release at street level. These measurements complemented previous studies because 1) our focus was on dispersion within the first kilometer from the source, when most of the material was expected to remain within the street network rather than being mixed into the boundary layer aloft; 2) measurements were made under a wide variety of meteorological conditions; and 3) central London represents a European, rather than North American, city geometry. Interpretation of the results from the full-scale experiments was supported by extensive numerical and wind tunnel modeling, which allowed more detailed analysis under idealized and controlled conditions. In this article, we review the full-scale DAPPLE methodologies and show early results from the analysis of the 2007 field campaign data.

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Footnotes

University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom

Building Research Establishment, Ltd., Watford, United Kingdom

Golder Associates, Ltd., United Kingdom

University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/2009BAMS2638.2)