Standard Article

Atmospheric Dispersion: Complex Terrain

Physical Processes

  1. Bruce A. Egan1,
  2. William H. Snyder2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vaa027

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Egan, B. A. and Snyder, W. H. 2006. Atmospheric Dispersion: Complex Terrain. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Egan Environmental Inc., MA, USA

  2. 2

    Raleigh, NC, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Atmospheric dispersion processes in complex terrain are generally more complicated than flows over simple, homogeneous, relatively flat terrain. This is because the nonhomogeneity of the terrain not only alters the airflow fields and the turbulence (diffusion intensities) in both the horizontal and vertical directions, but it also affects the consequences of solar heating and radiative cooling on the development of local circulations and flows. Although important over homogeneous terrain, the vertical profiles of wind velocity and temperature are even more important factors when considering complex terrain.