- provision of space weather information;
- provision of volcanic hazard information;
- provision of information relating to the release of radioactive material; and
- harmonization of global- and regional-scale aviation MET information.
One important task recently delegated to the MET-P includes an assessment of how to provide global information for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and other hazardous volcanic gases in the atmosphere, which may pose a risk to aviation. This task builds upon prior work by the Volcanic Ash Scientific Advisory Group (VASAG), established through a working arrangement between the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).
The MET-P’s work will initially focus solely on SO2. The task requires the incorporation of several disciplines including: meteorology, geological sciences, engineering, air traffic management, airline operations and medicine/human health.
SO2is a byproduct of volcanic eruption, and is generally transported aloft by large-scale meteorological patterns. The gas is highly corrosive to aircraft and aviation equipment, and can pose significant health risk to aircraft occupants.
SO2 can sometimes be associated and co-located with volcanic ash, but the detection and observation of SO2 differs from volcanic ash in two ways: 1) SO2 cannot be seen by the human eye, making avoidance by the pilot nearly impossible, and 2) SO2 is a gas, and can remain aloft long after volcanic ash has precipitated from the atmosphere.
The MET-P’s work on SO2 is expected to culminate in the development of SARPs for inclusion in ICAO Annex 3, Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation, to include, inter alia:
- description, details and examples of services (e.g., forecasts) to be provided; and
- definition of the entity or organization providing the services.
It is expected that these SARPs will be included in Annex 3, for the amendment applicable in November 2018.