A comparison of Lagrangian model estimates to light detection and ranging (LIDAR) measurements of dust plumes from field tilling

Junming Wang, April L. Hiscox, David R. Miller, Thomas H. Meyer, Ted W. Sammis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A Lagrangian particle model has been adapted to examine human exposures to particulate matter ≤ 10 μm (PM10) in agricultural settings. This paper reports the performance of the model in comparison to extensive measurements by elastic LIDAR (light detection and ranging). For the first time, the LIDAR measurements allowed spatially distributed and time dynamic measurements to be used to test the predictions of a field-scale model. The model outputs, which are three-dimensional concentration distribution maps from an agricultural disking operation, were compared with the LIDAR-scanned images. The peak cross-correlation coefficient and the offset distance of the measured and simulated plumes were used to quantify both the intensity and location accuracy. The appropriate time averaging and changes in accuracy with height of the plume were examined. Inputs of friction velocity, Monin-Obukhov length, and wind direction (1 sec) were measured with a three-axis sonic anemometer at a single point in the field (at 1.5-m height). The Lagrangian model of Wang et al. predicted the near-field concentrations of dust plumes emitted from a field disking operation with an overall accuracy of approximately 0.67 at 3-m height. Its average offset distance when compared with LIDAR measurements was approximately 38 m, which was 6% of the average plume moving distance during the simulation periods. The model is driven by weather measurements, and its near-field accuracy is highest when input time averages approach the turbulent flow time scale (3-70 sec). The model accuracy decreases with height because of smoothing and errors in the input wind field, which is modeled rather than measured at heights greater than the measurement anemometer. The wind steadiness parameter (S) can be used to quantify the combined effects of wind speed and direction on model accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1370-1378
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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