Volcanic ash is a recurring impediment to normal air-traffic operations in Europe, Asia and South America due to potential jet engine damage caused by the razor-sharp particles in dense ash plumes. A notable example is the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland that shut-down air traffic throughout Western Europe for seven days, with intermittent closings necessary as new ash plumes continued to enter the European airspace. More than 300 airports were closed, 100,000 flights were cancelled, and 10 million passengers were impacted. This economic disaster prompted research organizations to place more emphasis on developing effective volcanic ash monitoring systems.
For Aviation Forecasters the Mini Micro Pulse LiDAR (MiniMPL) from Droplet Measurement Technologies (Droplet), is the premier lidar/ceilometer for detecting potentially dangerous cloud aerosols, such as volcanic ash, at long range. MiniMPL is a highly portable lidar system designed for automated measurement. MiniMPL units have operated unattended from Everest to the Sahara, taking measurements of aerosol, cloud vertical structure and boundary layer heights 24/7/365.
In situ observations of volcanic ash clouds from the FAAM aircraft during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010
CASE STUDY: MICRO PULSE LIDAR ENHANCES GLOBAL AVIATION SAFETY
Monitoring volcanic ash provides early warnings and forecasts of hazardous atmospheric conditions.Read More
Unpredictable Volcanic Ash Plumes Restrict Air Traffic
Volcano Alert Level: “Warning” and Aviation Color Code: “Red.” If a volcano reaches this status, there is a major eruption imminent or already underway, which poses a threat to the surrounding areas on the ground and in the air. Even with early monitoring systems in place for hundreds of volcanoes worldwide, the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, eruptions, lava flows and ash plumes wreaks havoc with nearby communities and global aviation. Ongoing research to support improved forecasting and modeling of volcanic activity uses a combination of sensors, including Mini Micro Pulse LiDAR (MiniMPL) to collect data.Read More