Analyzing the Eyjafjallajokull 2010 eruption using satellite remote sensing, lidar and WRF-Chem dispersion and tracking model
Volcanic ash forecasting is a critical tool in hazard assessment and operational volcano monitoring. The use of volcanic ash transport and dispersion models allows analysts to determine the future location of ash clouds. In April–May 2010, Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland erupted explosively. Presented here is an evaluation of the volcanic application of the weather research and forecasting in-line chemistry model (WRF-Chem) applied to Eyjafjallajökull. The analysis focuses on the first few days of the explosive events, April 14–19. The model simulations are presented along with multiple satellite and ground based tools to compare and validate the results. The WRF-Chem results showed the ash cloud dispersing toward mainland Europe, with concentrations crossing Europe between 0.5–2.0 mg/m3, centered at 5 km ASL, +/−1 km. Comparisons with satellite volcanic ash retrievals showed a good agreement and ground-based Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) data compared well to the model simulations. The analysis in this manuscript has illustrated the use of WRF-Chem for volcanic eruptions, with the coupled numerical weather simulation and ash forecasting important to understand the local atmospheric conditions as well as the ash cloud distribution. We show that to fully forecast ash concentrations, to the level of mg's per m3, there is a need for accurate knowledge of the plume height; mass eruption rate; particle size distribution and duration along with a fusion of all data. Then accurate hazard assessments can be performed to limit the impact that dispersing clouds have on the aviation community and population.