Calculating and communicating ensemble-based volcanic ash concentration risk for aviation

Harvey, Natalie and Dacre, Helen and Capponi, Antonio (2021) Calculating and communicating ensemble-based volcanic ash concentration risk for aviation. In: EGU General Assembly 2021, 2021-04-192021-04-30, Online.

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During volcanic eruptions Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC) produce forecasts of ash location and concentration. However, these forecasts are deterministic and do not take into account the inherent uncertainty in the forecasts due to incomplete knowledge of the volcano’s eruption characteristics and imperfect representation of atmospheric processes in numerical models. This means flight operators have incomplete information regarding the risk of flying following an eruption, which could result in overly conservative decisions being made. There is a need for a new generation of volcanic ash hazard charts allowing end users to make fast and robust decisions using risk estimates based on state-of-the-art probabilistic forecast methods . In this presentation, a method for visualizing ash concentration matrix using a risk-matrix approach will be applied to two volcanic eruptions, Grimsvotn (2011) and Raikoke (2019). These risk-matrix graphics reduce the ensemble information into an easy-to-use decision-making tool. In this work the risk level is determined by combining the concentration of volcanic ash and the likelihood of that concentration occurring. When applying this technique to the Grimsvotn eruption, the airspace containing volcanic ash concentrations deemed to be associated with the highest risk (high likelihood of exceeding a high concentration threshold) to aviation are reduced by over 85% compared to using an ensemble that gives an ash distribution similar to the VAAC issued deterministic forecast. The reduction during the Raikoke eruption can be as much as 40% at a forecast lead time of 48 hours. This has the potential to reduce the disruption to airline operations. This tool could be extended to include other aviation hazards, such as desert dust, aircraft icing and clear air turbulence.

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Contribution to Conference (Other)
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EGU General Assembly 2021
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14 Feb 2022 16:55
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 03:47