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Volcanic Ash Cloud Alert

Posted on 20 August 2014

Over the last 2-3 days, the Icelandic volcano Bardarbunga moved from Green alert status, to Yellow, then to Orange. If the alert moves to Red, an eruption is imminent or has started, with potential massive impact on the aviation industry. Two eruptions in Iceland in 2010 and 2011 caused over 100,000 flights over Europe to be cancelled with an economic impact in excess of €5 billion.

Lack of sophistication in ash cloud forecasting, along with shortcomings in the detection and quantification of the ash dispersion, led to blanket no-fly decisions and flight cancelations. NUI Galway's Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) and ICHEC have deployed a rapid-reaction ash forecasting system that relies on algorithms developed by C-CAPS, ICHEC's Fionn supercomputer and data provided by Met Éireann. The current simulations provide a hypothetical scenario that can be used by the aviation authorities and airlines to plan for 1-4 days into the future in case of an eruption. In short, aviation stakeholders are now significantly more informed of potential ash dispersion patterns prior to and during any eruption.

The ash cloud forecasts can be found on www.macehead.org


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