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Support to Aviation for Volcanic Ash Avoidance

The ESA funded Data User Element SAVAA project aims at providing accurate and timely satellite-based information to Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) with the goal of improving and supporting services to the aviation community

Support to Aviation for Volcanic Ash Avoidance
DUE (Data User Element)
Service Demonstration
MetOp : IASI
MetOp : GOME-2
NOAA : AVHRR" target="_blank">

There are numerous sources of imagery and sounder data that can be used to identify and track airborne volcanic debris. However, there are no standard data products specifically designed for volcanic ash and volcanic gas (principally SO2). This has led to a number of ad hoc approaches and systems, and a lack of data product coordination between various VAACs. There are also no internationally agreed satellite-based volcanic product standards and no protocols or procedures in place to permit specification of safe limits for aviation encountering airborne volcanic substances. Despite the lack of standard products there are several mature techniques available from the research community that could be implemented for operational use.

Another important factor in providing support to the aviation industry is timeliness. Most danger to jet aircraft occurs within 3 hours of a volcanic eruption and often the most critical time period is during the night, when visual identification of airborne volcanic hazards is reduced.

Once volcanic debris has been correctly identified, either through satellite detection of ash or SO2, sophisticated atmospheric dispersion models can be run to predict the path of the volcanic clouds. The injection height of the volcanic debris is a critical piece of information in this process. Currently, there is no objective means for determining the injection height of a volcanic eruption, and usually multiple dispersion simulations must be run and matched "by eye" to current or prior satellite imagery.

The project will adress all these critical issues with the aim to provide accurate and timely satellite-based information to Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) and ultimately to improve services to the aviation community.

Norwegian Institute for Air Research
Fred Prata
Norwegian Institute for Air Research - NILU
Instituttveien 18, 2027 Kjeller
Claus Zehner
European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP
via Galileo Galilei
I-00046 Frascati (RM)