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Centre for Atmospheric Science

Volcanic Ash Emergency Response

25 Jun 2010

Scientists from the Centre have recently been involved in the UK's response to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. Between the 20th of April and 18th of May we flew ten research sorties in collaboration with scientists from the UK Met Office to try to understand the nature of the volcanic ash cloud, the quantity of ash present in UK airspace, and the exact location of the ash.

Flying on board the UK BAe-146 atmospheric research aircraft, we monitored ash concentration and size distributions using a variety of optical probes including the SPEC CPI and 2DS, and the DMT CAPS.

These measurements were essential in allowing research flights to take place at all, as CAS staff were tasked with informing the flight crew in real time of the concentration of ash the aircraft was flying through. Limit values agreed by the CAA, Met Office and Directflight were observed by taking evasive action when the risk of engine damage became unacceptable.

Data from the 146 missions along with data from the NERC Dornier aircraft during the same period are currently being analysed by CAS staff, and provided to the Met Office, engine manufacturers, and other research groups throughout Europe.

In addition to the airborne measurements CAS scientists have also been making ground based measurements of the ash cloud using Lidar instruments.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
Volcano Plume
Ash plume spreads over Europe
Cloud Probes
Wing mounted instruments on the 146.