A paper published in the IOP journal Inverse Problems develops an algorithm that can take a sample of pollutants in a body of water and determine the rate at which the pollutant entered the body of water, and where the pollutant came from.
The press release explains that this
isn’t the first time that mathematical algorithms have been used to solve this problem; however, this new approach is unique in that it could allow researchers to ‘track’ the source of a pollutant if it is moving or changing in strength.
Co-author Mike Andrle is quoted saying that “application of this work may save precious moments to avert more environmental damage”.
The theoretical work establishes that a unique result can be obtained and that this is “robust”; important, the press release explains, in practice where such measurements often have relatively large errors associated with them. The paper’s abstract says that it provides numerical results to support the theoretical results.
Press release: Maths formula leads researchers to source of pollution.
Article: Identification of multiple moving pollution sources in surface waters or atmospheric media with boundary observations (Andrle, M. and El Badia, A., 2012. Inverse Problems. DOI: 10.1088/0266-5611/28/7/075009).