Refining an ensemble of volcanic ash forecasts using satellite retrievals:Raikoke 2019

Capponi, Antonio and Harvey, Natalie J. and Dacre, Helen F. and Beven, Keith and Saint, Cameron and Wells, Cathie and James, Michael (2022) Refining an ensemble of volcanic ash forecasts using satellite retrievals:Raikoke 2019. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22 (9). pp. 6115-1634. ISSN 1680-7316

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Volcanic ash advisories are produced by specialised forecasters who combine several sources of observational data and volcanic ash dispersion model outputs based on their subjective expertise. These advisories are used by the aviation industry to make decisions about where it is safe to fly. However, both observations and dispersion model simulations are subject to various sources of uncertainties that are not represented in operational forecasts. Quantification and communication of these uncertainties are fundamental for making more informed decisions. Here, we develop a data assimilation method which combines satellite retrievals and volcanic ash transport and dispersion model (VATDM) output, considering uncertainties in both data sources. The methodology is applied to a case study of the 2019 Raikoke eruption. To represent uncertainty in the VATDM output, 1000 simulations are performed by simultaneously perturbing the eruption source parameters, meteorology and internal model parameters (known as the prior ensemble). The ensemble members are filtered, based on their level of agreement with the ash column loading, and their uncertainty, of the Himawari–8 satellite retrievals, to produce a constrained posterior ensemble. For the Raikoke eruption, filtering the ensemble skews the values of mass eruption rate towards the lower values within the wider parameters ranges initially used in the prior ensemble (mean reduces from 1 Tgh-1 to 0.1 Tgh-1). Furthermore, including satellite observations from subsequent times increasingly constrains the posterior ensemble. These results suggest that the prior ensemble leads to an overestimate of both the magnitude and uncertainty in ash column loadings. Based on the prior ensemble, flight operations would have been severely disrupted over the Pacific Ocean. Using the constrained posterior ensemble, the regions where the risk is overestimated are reduced potentially resulting in fewer flight disruptions. The data assimilation methodology developed in this paper is easily generalisable to other short duration eruptions and to other VATDMs and retrievals of ash from other satellites.

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Journal Article
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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
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12 Apr 2022 09:10
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 02:03