VDART-RED: Volcanic Dosage and Risk Tool – RaikokE case study Development

In the event of a volcanic eruption, policy and regulations are in place to ensure airborne aircraft land safely and to guide flight planning decisions. More than 6,000 flights and over 650,000 passengers pass through UK airspace each day. During Icelandic volcanic eruptions the London Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) produces forecasts of ash location and concentration. These VAAC forecasts are used to decide where it is safe to fly. There are, however, several problems with these forecasts. Firstly, they do not allow the airline operators to easily estimate along- flight ash dosage (the quantity used to define engine tolerance). Secondly, they do not take into account the uncertainty in the forecasts due to incomplete knowledge of the eruption characteristics and imperfect representation of atmospheric processes in numerical models. Thus, the decision makers within the airline industry have incomplete information regarding the risk of flying when there is volcanic ash present in UK air-space.

There is a need for a new generation of volcanic ash hazard charts that are based on risk estimates determined by combining state-of-the-art probabilistic forecast methods and en-gine dosage tolerance information. These charts will allow the relevant authorities to develop policy based on estimates of along-flight ash dosage for planned flight-paths and to manage the risk of exposure to volcanic ash.

To demonstrate the value of these charts we will further develop a proof-of-concept tool developed at the University of Reading the Volcanic Dosage And Risk Tool (VDART) by simulating a real volcanic eruption (Raikoke, 2019), evaluating the simulations for Raikoke using satellite observations to optimise the use of multiple plausible realisations and estimating how flight routes would be affected if the risk-based approach were used to make flight planning decisions for Raikoke 2019. These are crucial next steps in developing an operational product.

Application to Raikoke case study



Ensemble mean ash column loading evolution

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Risk evolution

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Risk evolution projected on to a flight trajectory

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Dosage associated risk evolution

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