• data assimilation;
  • elevated source;
  • inverse modelling;
  • retrieval errors;
  • weak winds;
  • wind variability


An inversion technique is proposed to reconstruct an elevated point emission source of known height of atmospheric trace species from a finite number of concentration measurements in low-wind stable conditions. Observations from the SF6 diffusion experiment at Idaho National Engineering Laboratory in low-wind stable conditions are used for the point source reconstruction.

The source location and its strength are both retrieved exactly with the model-generated measurements in all the runs. With real data, the location is reconstructed with an average error of 20 m, mostly along the wind, and the intensity is retrieved within a factor of 2 in all the runs. The incurred errors in the retrieval are justified by estimating the angular departure between the vectors of measurement and adjoint function. A sensitivity study is carried out to analyse the sensitivity of the source estimation with respect to signal perturbation caused by the background concentration of the species in the ambient air. Source reconstruction is shown to be improved and more focused when the samplers having a measurement value corresponding to the background concentration are maintained in the inversion process. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society