Forecasting the volcanic ash plume of Iceland's volcano

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on April 19, 2010

Share this Blog
3
+

The eruption of Iceland's volcano with the unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull, has virtually ceased over the past few hours, with ash only reaching up to 6,000 feet (1800 meters), according to the latest advisory from the UK Met Office. Lightning images from UK Met Office show no new lightning strikes from the volcano's plume since midnight local time today. The relatively small amount of ash present at low altitudes will probably not be able to make it all the way to mainland Europe before falling to the surface and dissipating, since 6,000 feet is below the altitude that the strong winds of jet stream blow. Wednesday through Sunday, the volcano emitted a towering cloud of volcanic ash 6 - 11 km (20,000 - 36,000') high in the air from its 1666 meter (5500') high peak. The jet stream blows strongly at that altitude range, which allowed for efficient transport of the ash cloud to mainland Europe.


Figure 1. Lightning lights up the night sky in this photo of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption taken on April 16, 2010. Ash particles colliding together separate electric charge, much as ice particles in a thunderstorm do, leading to spectacular lightning displays. Image credit: Marco, Fulle, Stromboli Online.

Forecasts of the movement of the ash cloud are made using trajectory models, which have a number of uncertainties to consider. Firstly, the amount of ash ejected by the volcano is highly uncertain, since our measurements of this quantity are limited. Secondly, the models must compute how high the ash cloud will rise (plume rise), based on the best available measurements of atmospheric stability. Since upper air-observations are taken just twice daily by a very coarse network of balloon soundings, our knowledge of the stability is rather crude. Finally, the trajectory models use forecast winds from a global model such as the GFS model to predict where the plume may go. The forecast winds from this model do not capture much of the complicated structure of the wind field over Europe, leading to a rather fuzzy approximation of where the ash will go. Nevertheless, these models have in general done a respectable job forecasting where the ash from Eyjafjallajökull will go over the past few days.


Figure 2. Cross section of the atmosphere over time over Paliseau, France, on April 16, 2010, as observed using ground-based lidar. Image taken using a 532nm cross polarization NFOV telescope. Note how the ash layer sinks closer to the ground as time progresses, as gravity makes the ash sink to the ground. There may also be some atmospheric subsidence occurring (downward moving air due to large-scale atmospheric processes.) Image credit: Ray Hoff, World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmosphere Watch's Aerosol Lidar Network (GALION).

For the next few days, these models continue to indicate that northwest winds at the jet stream level will continue to affect Iceland. As a result, Spain, Portugal, and Greece will offer the best locations to fly from. The northwesterly winds are expected to continue for the remainder of the week, thanks to an upper-level trough of low pressure over northern Europe. On Saturday April 24, the ECMWF model predicts that the trough will slide eastwards, and a ridge of high pressure will build over Europe. This will bring upper-level winds out of the southwest to Iceland, directing any volcanic ash northwards over the North Pole. Thus for the remainder of this week, expect continued ash clouds over much of Europe if the volcano resumes significant eruptions. But by next Sunday, the ash over Europe should decline considerably. For the latest one-day forecasts of where the ash cloud is expected to go, consult the UKMET Office. The Rhenish Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Cologne also has some excellent simulations from an atmospheric dispersion model of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption plume. The Norwegian Institute for Air Research runs a computer trajectory model called FLEXPART that has 1-day forecasts showing a cross section of the atmosphere. NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) lets you perform your own model run using their HYSPLIT model, going out up to 48 hours, using the GFS model as input.


Figure 3. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the eruption at 1:20 UTC on April 17, 2010. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Links
An excellent source of links of information on the eruption is available at http://islande2010.mbnet.fr/2010/04/eyjafjallajok ul-links-liens-a-propos-de-leyjafjallajokul/. My post on Thursday discusses the likely non-impact of this eruption on Earth's climate. Finally, we need to be keeping an eye on earthquake activity at the dangerous Katla volcano next to Eyjafjallajökull. If that volcano blows, it could mean dwarf the headaches caused by Eyjafjallajökull.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 524 - 474

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17Blog Index

Quoting IKE:
I had .99 inches of rain yesterday...needed rain...inland...Florida panhandle.

1001 hours...
11 minutes and it starts....

Morning Ike, Glad to see you got your rain. Now you can breath easier.I myself got .27 yesterday. All is good, have a great day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
While El Nino in the Pacific is waning, there is a time lag in the overall atmospheric response on the Atlantic so I'm wondering "when" the jet stream is going to retreat to the North and allow favorable conditions in the Gulf..This current El Nino pattern of persistent lows being ejected into the Gulf from the West (in April) is almost similar to the conditions in the late Fall when cold fronts/remnants are possible brewing grounds in the Gulf late in the season...Just trying to figure out where the first storm of the season might form this year and whether it might form the Gulf, rather than the Caribbean, if this general weather pattern for the Gulf is still around come later May early June when sheers dies down.....


It's already starting to shift, notice the 10's & 20's creeping up into the Atlantic, and the non-zonal flow. Surely not as zonal as it was just last week.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
522. IKE
I had .99 inches of rain yesterday...needed rain...inland...Florida panhandle.

1001 hours...
11 minutes and it starts....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am curious to see if this volcano will change the weather for parts of the USA? Or, if it will change the hurricane pattern in one way or another?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Update
Berlin - Germany extended Tuesday its partial ban on aviation for another six hours to 8 pm (1800 GMT) because of volcanic ash in the air, the air traffic control agency DFS said in Frankfurt.

However airlines have already resumed basic service from German airports by exploiting visual-flight rules (VFR). DFS confirmed that VFR flights were permitted. Its airspace ban only applies to aviation that relies purely on ground control and navigation instruments.

VFR flights operate at below 3,000 metres altitude in daylight and pilots must use their own radar and eyesight to avoid other planes.

However Berlin said earlier that air traffic controllers were in fact offering guidance to VFR flights.

On Monday alone, one airline, Air Berlin, operated 104 VFR flights out of German airports.

A major German package holiday company said it would repatriate 11,000 stranded German vacationers in the course of Tuesday aboard VFR flights.

At Frankfurt Airport, backlogged travellers were on their way out of Germany. At Lufthansa's check-in desks, a queue of passengers 100 metres long formed.

The airlines contend that the lower-altitude flights are safe, and defended their decision to sidestep the aviation ban. They said most of the ash blown over Germany from the Icelandic volcanic eruption was suspended in the air at higher altitudes.
Copyright DPA

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi, good morning from under the ash cloud in Germany (though very nice and clear weather), including a lot of planes in the air


Visibility of the ash cloud during a scientific test flight in Germany yesterday afternoon. Measurement results will be available soon

Present situation
Report wall street journal
Some European Airports Reopen Despite Caution

Report spiegel magazine
Europe Eases Flight Restrictions amid Fears of New Ash Cloud



Out to work. Have a nice day, everybody!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"While many airlines are complaining that European authorities are exaggerating the risk to air traffic from volcanic ash in the air, officials have said the engines of fighter jets have been affected by it. Reuters cited a senior US official as saying on Monday that glass build-up was found in an engine of a NATO F-16 fighter plane. Separately, the Finnish Air Force said Boeing F-18 Hornet fighters were affected by ash before the airspace closures last Thursday."

"Images show that ingested ash has melted under the extremely high temperatures -- which may reach approximately 1,000 degrees centigrade -- prevailing in the combustion chamber."

"The cloud smells like a steam engine."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
516. xcool
Hurricanes101 ... Nothing
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:
Link


ecmwf .show !!!!!!!!


ok what about it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think the sod roof house are cool
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
513. xcool
Link


ecmwf .show !!!!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Fl is the top place in the US but not the world
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I thought that too.. went to Google Earth and I think it would be nice place to real nice place to go in the summer
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
510. xcool
Top 10 Lightning prone states


1. Florida
2. Louisiana
3. Mississippi
4. Alabama
5. Georgia
6. South Carolina
7. Tennessee
8. Kentucky
9. Illinois
10. Oklahoma
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
couple miles i guess
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
long range GFS still develops a storm in the SW Caribbean
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Keeper how far do think the farms are away from the blast?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
While El Nino in the Pacific is waning, there is a time lag in the overall atmospheric response on the Atlantic so I'm wondering "when" the jet stream is going to retreat to the North and allow favorable conditions in the Gulf..This current El Nino pattern of persistent lows being ejected into the Gulf from the West (in April) is almost similar to the conditions in the late Fall when cold fronts/remnants are possible brewing grounds in the Gulf late in the season...Just trying to figure out where the first storm of the season might form this year and whether it might form the Gulf, rather than the Caribbean, if this general weather pattern for the Gulf is still around come later May early June when sheers dies down.....


There's not really a lag, as this El Nino is atmospheric-driven.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
Well; off to bed....See you folks tommorow sometime....WW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link

first cam back up watchin ya can see glacier fissure where melt water runs beneath it strange hole at base above where the river looks to come from
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
............. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
501. JRRP
i wonder when do we will see the first Tropical Wave?

see you tomorrow
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
While El Nino in the Pacific is waning, there is a time lag in the overall atmospheric response on the Atlantic so I'm wondering "when" the jet stream is going to retreat to the North and allow favorable conditions in the Gulf..This current El Nino pattern of persistent lows being ejected into the Gulf from the West (in April) is almost similar to the conditions in the late Fall when cold fronts/remnants are possible brewing grounds in the Gulf late in the season...Just trying to figure out where the first storm of the season might form this year and whether it might form the Gulf, rather than the Caribbean, if this general weather pattern for the Gulf is still around come later May early June when sheers dies down.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
what are them farmers down there 3-4 mile from the blast?Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tuesday 20th April 2010
Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland
Some flights over Europe are planned to resume today. The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland has grounded flights over many parts of Europe for 5 days. The response is looking like an overreaction, as planes have regularly flown through volcanic ash clouds in other parts of the world for many years. With Eyjafjallajokull volcano possibly staying active for months or years, a more appropriate response will need to be found for the next occasion. The response will need to be based on science, and include a multi-disciplinary approach. Hopefully there will be increased funding for volcanology research as a result this eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Reports are posted (UT +10 hr).
Archived Volcano News
Twitter @johnseach
RSS
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
(Eyjafjoll)

Iceland

63.63 N, 19.62 W
summit elevation 1666 m
stratovolcano


nice cloud formation over eyja hovl cam
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
Good Morning.....Another good looking jet-stream driven weather system about to hit the Gulf from the Mexico/Texas border....Thank God it's still only April with El Nino/sheer conditions inthe Gulf.......Hopefully, the sheer in the Gulf will not go "dead calm" on June 1st.... :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
495. xcool
heyyyyyyy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think every body in the UK beter get out now!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
493. Xyrus
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I've been hearing plenty of "experienced professionals" saying that there has not been in increase in the frequency of earthquakes lately, but I call complete BS on that. I have noticed (along with everyone else) that there have been WAY more earthquakes lately than ever before in my life experience.


No, you're HEARING about more earthquakes than you ever had because of the global information grid.

You've got 24 hour news stations, a real-time network of world seismographs, the internet, blogs, twitter, RSS feeds, and iPhones. Not only can you know about an Earthquake in Uzbekistan in 20 seconds, you can also find out that Carlos's grandmother just fell asleep and farted in church in El Salvador.

It's not just earthquakes either. Hurricanes, tornados, volcanos, floods, or any other world phenomenon you are far more likely to read or hear about today than even 20 years ago. Everyday more of the world becomes accessible to your fingertips, and with that comes all the additional information and knowledge that you would have never known about.

I know it's the "in" thing to throw out the aggregated research and discoveries of experts in their scientific fields based on gut feeling. Before you do that, just stop and consider how much more information we have available today and how much better connected we all are.

~X~
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
and warming up
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NIte all. Get some sleep and take your arthritis medicine, and reflux medicine and your Rogaine. Hope to see you all tomorrow.

By the way, o the old Star Trek, Spoock always said his last name was "unpronounceable, but here it is. Practice it in your sleep.

SKJGDLFKJGHFDJGNDKUGHADFUGDKAJFGBDFKUHKFJGHKDJFHGL KDFJGOEIJEOIBGVKFDJBVLKDUFHGSKDJHGKDJFGHSLKJFGHLSD KFJGHLKFJ

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
She is a blowing
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link

web cam back up
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey Aussie. Working fine for me.

Evidently that quake is a rare event. Already the theories are flying. One says it's because of the rain, the ground shifting from the water.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Notice eveything is underlined. What is that all about?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Is anyone else getting this?

The connection has timed out


The server at www.wunderground.com is taking too long to respond.

* The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy. Try again in a few moments.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Moderate earthquake rattles Western Australia Goldfields

A MODERATE earthquake shook Western Australia today, seismologists said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The 5.2-magnitude earthquake at 8.17am local time (10.17am AEST) was centred about 36 kilometres north-northeast of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, a city in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Aaaaaahhhhhh I broke it.

mulakot.net skilar villum. Tæknimönnum 1984 ehf hefur verið gert viðvart! Referred by http://www.wunderground.com/blog/PcolaDan/show.html

mulakot.net returns errors. Technicians 1984 Ltd. has been notified! Referred by http://www.wunderground.com/blog/PcolaDan/show.html
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting Patrap:
Did ya feel dat just now..?



Twas just a Big Truck..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting Patrap:
Did ya feel dat just now..?


hello?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Question for the blog...
"They" suggest Jamaica is next for an earthquake based on historical data. In how many years should we expect this??? I know we can't predict earthquakes but what's the suggested time period?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Taking your back pain medicine again, are we Dan?


Maybe I should up the dose. :)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting PcolaDan:
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

backwards

dociousaliexpiisticfragilcalirupus

according to the movie

sounds atrocious, but you'll sound precocious


Taking your back pain medicine again, are we Dan?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Did ya feel dat just now..?


OK, feel what>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

backwards

dociousaliexpiisticfragilcalirupus

according to the movie

sounds atrocious, but you'll sound precocious
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting Patrap:
Did ya feel dat just now..?


Feel What???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Did ya feel dat just now..?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
...and I can't even pronounce that...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492

Viewing: 524 - 474

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.