To address the need for better information about volcanic ash events, the Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) asked Météo-France (MF), the French national meteorological service, to focus on the ash issue. MF set out to determine the best method of providing accurate information about the size and concentration of volcanic particles from the ground up to a minimum of 12 km altitude.
The subsequent research efforts included the following activities:
• Tracking plumes of volcanic ash or dust through the atmosphere
• Understanding local air quality
• Providing warnings to air traffic controllers, meteorologists, and industrial sites related to aerosol events
During the summer of 2012, using desert dust as a proxy, MF collected data provided by several LiDAR sensors and ceilometers and in-situ measurements (balloon-borne particle counters and aircraft sensors) to assess their effectiveness in tracking aerosols.