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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Short-Range Atmospheric Dispersion of Carbon Dioxide

  • Author(s): Cortis, Andrea
  • Oldenburg, Curtis M.
  • et al.

We present a numerical study aimed at quantifying the effects of concentration-dependent density on the spread of a seeping plume of CO2 into the atmosphere such as could arise from a leaking geologic carbon sequestration site. Results of numerical models can be used to supplement field monitoring estimates of CO2 seepage flux by modelling transport and dispersion between the source emission and concentration-measurement points. We focus on modelling CO2 seepage dispersion over relatively short distances where density effects are likely to be important. We model dense gas dispersion using the steady-state Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations with density dependence in the gravity term. Results for a two-dimensional system show that a density dependence emerges at higher fluxes than prior estimates. A universal scaling relation is derived that allows estimation of the flux from concentrations measured downwind and vice versa.

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