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How accurate are volcanic ash simulations of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption?

Dacre, H. F., Harvey, N. J., Webley, P. W. and Morton, D. (2016) How accurate are volcanic ash simulations of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption? Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 121 (7). pp. 3534-3547. ISSN 2169-8996

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/2015JD024265

Abstract/Summary

In the event of a volcanic eruption the decision to close airspace is based on forecast ash maps, produced using volcanic ash transport and dispersion models. In this paper we quantitatively evaluate the spatial skill of volcanic ash simulations using satellite retrievals of ash from the Eyja allajökull eruption during the period from 7 to 16 May 2010. We find that at the start of this period, 7–10 May, the model (FLEXible PARTicle) has excellent skill and can predict the spatial distribution of the satellite-retrieved ash to within 0.5∘ × 0.5∘ latitude/longitude. However, on 10 May there is a decrease in the spatial accuracy of the model to 2.5∘× 2.5∘ latitude/longitude, and between 11 and 12 May the simulated ash location errors grow rapidly. On 11 May ash is located close to a bifurcation point in the atmosphere, resulting in a rapid divergence in the modeled and satellite ash locations. In general, the model skill reduces as the residence time of ash increases. However, the error growth is not always steady. Rapid increases in error growth are linked to key points in the ash trajectories. Ensemble modeling using perturbed meteorological data would help to represent this uncertainty, and assimilation of satellite ash data would help to reduce uncertainty in volcanic ash forecasts.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:65532
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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