- Met Office press release about Raymetrics LIDAR network
- Magazine article on LIDARs for ash detection
- EARLINET detects ash from Eyjafjallajökull (Raymetrics LIDARs)
Volcanic ash detected at 16km altitude with a Raymetrics LIDAR. Data courtesy of National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)
The major benefit compared to other techniques is that depolarization LIDARs can distinguish ash from other particles, even in real-time. Significantly more powerful than ceilometers, classical aerosol LIDARs can also provide the heights and thicknesses of ash plumes, even at very high altitudes; key information which is difficult to determine by other means. Combined with other information, LIDARs can also give an indication of the density of the ash.
Volcanic ash detected from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption with a Raymetrics LIDAR within EARLINET. Data courtesy of NTUA.
The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption caused massive disruption to air traffic. Many other volcanic events have also recently caused issues including airspace being closed and flights being cancelled, such as in Chile, Indonesia, Australia and Japan. Monitoring ash is therefore becoming increasingly important.
Many meteorological agencies have now begun deploying LIDAR networks to aid decision-making during volcanic events, including The Met Office in the UK, which is implementing a network of 11 X LR111-D300 model Raymetrics LIDARs. Ian Lisk, Head of the Natural Hazards team at The Met Office, said of the project:
"The new LIDAR network will significantly improve our overall ability to monitor and forecast the distribution of volcanic ash over the UK. Our forecasts are used by partners at the National Air Traffic Service to make decisions on flight safety across UK airspace, based on the safety thresholds set by the Civil Aviation Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organisation."