Toward an Observation of Volcanic Ash: which kind of Observation can be Made by Different Instruments and How to Design a Network

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:30 PM
211A West Building (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Florence Besson, Météo France, Toulouse, France

The 2010 eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull (Icelandic volcano) resulted in one of the greatest air traffic disruption in Western Europe with 107,000 flights cancellations during an 8-day period, accounting for 48% of total air traffic and roughly 10 million passengers. The estimated cost of this European controlled airspace shutdown is about € 1.3 billion according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

London Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) was responsible for providing information about the ash plume to the relevant civil aviation authorities in the form of Volcanic Ash Advisories (VAA). On this basis, the authorities made decisions about when and where airspace should be closed due to the safety issues.

It was difficult for the VAAC to provide accurate information about the size and concentration of the volcanic particles. As a result, Toulouse VAAC asked Météo-France to find solutions to detect volcanic ashes from the ground to a 12km altitude and to assess their concentration.

Météo-France conducted an intercomparison campaign between several lidars and ceilometers during summer 2012 in order to assess their ability to detect aerosols dust for lack of volcanic ashes. The observations produced by the instruments are obtained thanks to several algorithms: STRAT from SIRTA and BASIC from the LOA (both French laboratories). It turns out it was difficult to compare the data with one another for several reasons: there is no aerosol measurement reference, instruments have different wavelengths, they can be dual-polarized. Results show the aerosols lidar technology may be a good mean to meet the VAAC requirements. Moreover, having the desire to built an efficient network in terms of number and location of sites over metropolitan France, Météo-France has run a model of pollutant dispersion, named MOCAGE, in retro-plume mode with different configurations in order to define the network which provides the best coverage.

This presentation describes how the intercomparison was conducted, the processing algorithms used, the difficulties encountered and the method used to design an optimum volcanic ash detection network.