Ash clouds from volcanoes pose an acute threat to flight safety, because the ash can cause engine failure or destroy on-board instrumentation.
Thus, the rapid and reliable detection of volcanic ash is necessary for regulating air traffic in these types of situations. There is also a need for good dispersion models that can describe ash transport. At the same time, ash clouds can have a major economic impact if there is a need for long-term airspace closures, so there is a demand for good quantitative data for ash concentrations.
NILU has world-leading expertise in this area of research and works internationally in close cooperation with ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization), the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
The atmospheric transport modelling is led by the Atmosphere and Climate Department, which has developed a model called FlexPart. A central research topic in recent years has been to develop a methodology where available observations are actively incorporated into model runs to improve dispersion modelling.