New way found of monitoring volcanic ash cloud

Dec 10, 2010

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, to be published today, Friday 10 December, in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters, shows that 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."

Explore further: Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years

More information: The paper can be found in Environmental Research Letters at iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/4/044013/fulltext

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A New Kind Of Lightning Discovered

Jan 28, 2010

When volcano seismologist Stephen McNutt at the University of Alaska Fairbanks's Geophysical Institute saw strange spikes in the seismic data from the Mount Spurr eruption in 1992, he had no idea that his ...

Recommended for you

More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

13 hours ago

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...