The CAPARS® system is an atmospheric dispersion modeling system used for rapid real-time emergency response projections of plume impacts from radiological and chemical releases. It is especially useful for releases with complex characteristics and for releases over complex environments or terrains. Currently in use at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, it provides plume, weather, hazard, and related information with the accuracy and speed needed to support all levels of emergency management and response, including the urgent demands of first responders.
The CAPARS system automates many tasks in the consequence projection process. The automation reduces the potential for user input error, minimizes the time required to generate answers, and helps to reduce the stress imposed upon consequence assessment personnel in the hectic environment of emergencies.
The CAPARS system is the first complex model accepted into the DOE Emergency Management Toolbox and the first to formally meet software quality assurance standards specified by SCAPA
The CAPARS system is designed to meet the key decision support needs of emergency managers, incident commanders, field monitoring teams, and regulatory agencies and contains several independent systems:
- A meteorological data system that automatically obtains, processes, quality checks, and stores data
- An interface that allows users to specify the characteristics of a simulated release
- An atmospheric dispersion model with a health-effects subcomponent that converts concentration-based exposure projections into health-based consequences
- A mapping system that:
- Uses geographical information system (GIS) displays of projected plumes and impacted features
- Shows a three-dimensional, complex-terrain wind field that changes over time and space for improved dispersion accuracy
- Displays independently moving, growing, and depositing puffs