News Brief

New Models of City Wind Patterns Could Help Fight Pollution

This image models wind eddies and the diffusion of particles around a tall city building.

Image: American Institute of Physics
By Erin WeaverIn the “urban canyons” of cities, wind carries a number of hazardous chemicals—including exhaust fumes, VOCs, ozone, and dust—in seemingly random patterns. A new paper in the journal

Physics of Fluids reveals that pollutant particles, rather than dissipating randomly, actually accumulate in specific areas and even form coherent patterns.The results, say the authors of “The geometry of inertial particle mixing in urban flows,” could be used to map areas susceptible to high concentrations and help decision-makers address urban pollution. This could include determining where greenery could be most effective: a recent study in

Environmental Science & Technology found that plants can reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter by up to 40% and 60%, respectively—eight times more than previously thought.

Published October 2, 2012

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