Methodology is developed for simulating the radiance profiles acquired from airborne passive multispectral infrared imaging measurements of ground sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The simulation model allows the superposition of pure-component laboratory spectra of VOCs onto spectral backgrounds that simulate those acquired during field measurements conducted with a downward-looking infrared line scanner mounted on an aircraft flying at an altitude of 2000–3000 ft (approximately 600–900 m). Wavelength selectivity in the line scanner is accomplished through the use of a multichannel Hg:Cd:Te detector with up to 16 integrated optical filters. These filters allow the detection of absorption and emission signatures of VOCs superimposed on the upwelling infrared background radiance within the instrumental field of view (FOV). By combining simulated radiance profiles containing analyte signatures with field-collected background signatures, supervised pattern recognition methods can be employed to train automated classifiers for use in detecting the signatures of VOCs during field measurements. The targeted application for this methodology is the use of the imaging system to detect releases of VOCs during emergency response scenarios. In the work described here, the simulation model is combined with piecewise linear discriminant analysis to build automated classifiers for detecting ethanol and methanol. Field data collected during controlled releases of ethanol, as well as during a methanol release from an industrial facility, are used to evaluate the methodology.

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