ESRL Global Systems Division

Volcanic Ash Coordination Tool (VACT)

Okmok Volcano July 13, 2008. Volcanic ash enclosed in red polygon.
Okmok Volcano July 13, 2008. Volcanic ash enclosed in red polygon.

About the Project:

VACT explores collaborating, briefing, and disseminating data describing volcanic ash events used by operational forecasters and decision makers over the internet (Network Enabled Operations (NEO)). The VACT is a true interagency collaboration and coordination tool, allowing experts from the National Weather Service's (NWS) Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) and Anchorage Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) to combine their talents with the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) in assessing, creating, and disseminating a more accurate and consistent volcanic ash dispersion forecast.

VACT allows each agency to share their relevant data sets (distributed databases) to help with this assessment. The VACT integrates only the data required for volcanic ash forecasting and is easily tailored for each agencies specific needs making it a light weight agile application tailored for each end-users specific requirements. Briefings highlighting impacts tailored for the recipient can be given to the FAA, DOD, emergency managers, and other agencies using the VACT application running on each agencies operational systems tailored for their particular needs.

The VACT extends the capabilities of the FX-Collaborate (FXC) application and the Advanced Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS) to include volcanic ash data sets, dispersion models, volcanic ash impact displays, and tools for generating volcanic ash products to meet the goal of reducing societal impact from volcanic ash by creating more consistent and accurate volcanic ash advisories and warnings through interagency collaboration and coordination.

VACT prototype systems


Alaska Region HeadQuarter's (ARHQ), Environmental Sciences and Services Division's (ESSD), Volcanic Ash Program Manager, Jeff Osiensky had the idea of using FXC for collaborating, coordinating, forecasting, and briefing volcanic ash events after attending a presentation on FXC capabilities given by Lynn Sherretz, Chief of the Aviation Program Development Section at GSD. ARHQ is responsible for championing VACT development efforts and helping to define and evaluate VACT requirements.

The Alaska Aviation Weather Unit (AAWU) is home of the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) and is responsible for issuing volcanic ash advisories and SIGMETs when ash is within the Anchorage VAAC's area of responsibility. The AAWU coordinates with the Tokyo, Canadian, and Washington VAAC's as ash passes from one VAACs area of responsibility to the next.

The Anchorage Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) briefs the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center's (ARTCC) traffic managers on volcanic ash dispersion whenever there is an eruption in or around the Anchorage ARTCC air space. The CWSU is responsible for issuing Center Weather Advisories (CWA) and Meteorological Impact Statements (MIS) to help aviation users avoid impacted airspace.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory monitor and study volcanoes so that more accurate warnings on anticipated and impending volcanic ash hazards can be given. The AVO is responsible for monitoring and alerting on volcanic ash events and describing the type and intensity of the volcanic eruption.

Collaboration by the AAWU, CWSU, and AVO during volcanic ash events has led to more consistent and accurate ash hazard advisories and warnings being disseminated to local, state, and federal agencies and the public.

Sponsored By:

Participating Agencies:

Previous Releases

VACT downloads

VACT Example Volcanic Ash SIGMETS and ADVISORIES