Mechanisms for log normal concentration distributions in the environment


Illustration of the temporal evolution of a log-normal concentration distribution during continuous kinetic degradation. Panel (A): Concentration distributions depicted at different times (t = time; Eqs. and –b). Panel (B): Temporal evolution of the corresponding mean concentrations, displaying exponential decay (Eq).

Log normal-like concentration distributions are ubiquitously observed in the environment. However, the mechanistic origins are not well understood. In this paper, we show that first order exponential kinetics onsets log-normal concentration distributions, under certain assumptions. Given the ubiquity of exponential kinetics, e.g., source and sink processes, this model suggests an explanation for the frequent observation in the environment, and elsewhere. We compare this model to other mechanisms affecting concentration distributions, e.g., source mixing. Finally, we discuss possible implications for data analysis and modelling, e.g., log-normal rates and fluxes.

Andersson, A. Mechanisms for log normal concentration distributions in the environment. Sci Rep 11, 16418 (2021).

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