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New way found of monitoring volcanic ash cloud

Date:
December 9, 2010
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April this year resulted in a giant ash cloud, which -- at one point covering most of Europe -- brought international aviation to a temporary standstill, resulting in travel chaos for tens of thousands. New research shows that lightning could be used as part of an integrated approach to estimate volcanic plume properties.

The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April this year resulted in a giant ash cloud, which -- at one point covering most of Europe -- brought international aviation to a temporary standstill, resulting in travel chaos for tens of thousands.

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New research, to be published December 10, in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters, shows that lightning could be used as part of an integrated approach to estimate volcanic plume properties.

The scientists found that during many of the periods of significant volcanic activity, the ash plume was sufficiently electrified to generate lightning, which was measured by the UK Met Office's long range lightning location network (ATDnet), operating in the Very Low Frequency radio spectrum.

The measurements suggest a general correlation between lightning frequency and plume height and the method has the advantage of being detectable many thousands of kilometres away, in both day and night as well as in all weather conditions.

As the researchers write, "When a plume becomes sufficiently electrified to produce lightning, the rate of lightning generation provides a method of remotely monitoring the plume height, offering clear benefits to the volcanic monitoring community."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. J. Bennett, P. Odams, D. Edwards, Þ. Arason. Monitoring of lightning from the April–May 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption using a very low frequency lightning location network. Environmental Research Letters, 2010; 5: 044013 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/4/044013

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "New way found of monitoring volcanic ash cloud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209202037.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2010, December 9). New way found of monitoring volcanic ash cloud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209202037.htm
Institute of Physics. "New way found of monitoring volcanic ash cloud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209202037.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

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