LBNL Report Number
Chemical release disasters have serious consequences, disrupting ecosystems, society, and causing significant loss of life. Mitigating the destructive impacts relies on identification and mapping, monitoring, and trajectory forecasting. Improvements in sensor capabilities are enabling airborne and space-based remote sensing to support response activities. Key applications are improving transport models in complex terrain and improved disaster response.
Understanding urban atmospheric transport in the Los Angeles Basin, where topographic influences on transport patterns are significant, was improved by leveraging the Aliso Canyon leak as an atmospheric tracer. Plume characterization data was collected by the AutoMObile trace Gas (AMOG) Surveyor, a commuter car modified for science. Mobile surface in situ CH4 and winds were measured by AMOG Surveyor under Santa Ana conditions to estimate an emission rate of 365±30% Gg yr-1. Vertical profiles were collected by AMOG Surveyor by leveraging local topography for vertical profiling to identify the planetary boundary layer at ~700 m. Topography significantly constrained plume dispersion by up to a factor of two. The observed plume trajectory was used to validate satellite aerosol optical depth-inferred atmospheric transport, which suggested the plume first was driven offshore, but then veered back towards land. Numerical long-range transport model predictions confirm this interpretation. This study demonstrated a novel application of satellite aerosol remote sensing for disaster response.