December 10, 2010
New Method For Monitoring Volcanic Ash Cloud
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, 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 measurements suggest a general correlation between lightning frequency and plume height and the method has the advantage of being detectable many thousands of kilometers 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."
On the Net:
- The paper can be found in IOP Publishing's open-access journal Environmental Research Letters at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/4/044013/fulltext
- Image Courtesy Henrik Thorburn/Wikipedia