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

Prata, A. T., Dacre, H. F., Irvine, E. A., Mathieu, E., Shine, K. P. and Clarkson, R. J. (2019) Calculating and communicating ensemble-based volcanic ash dosage and concentration risk for aviation. Meteorological Applications, 26 (2). pp. 253-266. ISSN 1469-8080

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/met.1759


During volcanic eruptions, aviation stakeholders require an assessment of the volcanic ash hazard. Operators and regulators are required to make fast decisions based on deterministic forecasts, which are subject to various sources of uncertainty. For a robust decision to be made, a measure of the uncertainty of the hazard should be considered but this can lead to added complexity preventing fast decision making. Here a proof-of-concept risk matrix approach is presented that combines uncertainty estimation and volcanic ash hazard forecasting into a simple warning system for aviation. To demonstrate the methodology, an ensemble of 600 dispersion model simulations is used to characterise uncertainty (due to eruption source parameters, meteorology and internal model parameters) in ash dosages and concentrations for a hypothetical Icelandic eruption. To simulate aircraft encounters with volcanic ash, trans-Atlantic air routes between New York (JFK) and London (LHR) are generated using time-optimal routing software. This approach has been developed in collaboration with operators, regulators and engine manufacturers; it demonstrates how an assessment of ash dosage and concentration risk can be used to make fast and robust flight-planning decisions even 23 when the model uncertainty spans several orders of magnitude. The results highlight the benefit of using an ensemble over a deterministic forecast and a new method for visualising dosage risk along flight paths. The risk matrix approach is applicable to other aviation hazards such as SO2 dosages, desert dust, aircraft icing and clear-air turbulence and is expected to aid flight-planning decisions by improving the communication of ensemble-based forecasts to aviation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:79259
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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