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Week of June 17, 2018

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Ash clouds, aviation and risk: How to make fast and robust decisions during the next volcanic eruption
Dr. Andrew Prata

Ash clouds, aviation and risk: How to make fast and robust decisions during the next volcanic eruption

Event date: 19 June 2018 - 12:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Prata
About the speaker:

Dr Andrew Prata recently completed a postdoc at the University of Reading (UK) working with Rolls-Royce, British Airways and the UK Civil Aviation Authority to develop new methods for communicating uncertainty in volcanic ash concentration forecasts to the aviation industry. Andrew completed his PhD at Monash University (Australia) in 2017 after completing an Honours Degree at Monash in 2012 and a BSc at the University of Melbourne in 2010. His PhD research focussed on using satellite measurements to detect and retrieve quantitative properties of volcanic clouds, which was motivated by the need to mitigate the associated impacts of volcanic eruptions on civil aviation and to provide a deeper understanding of the radiative properties of volcanic clouds. Andrew will be talking about his research at Reading.


During volcanic eruptions, aviation stakeholders require an assessment of the volcanic ash hazard. Operators and regulators are required to make fast decisions based on deterministic forecasts, which are subject to various sources of uncertainty. For a robust decision to be made, a measure of the uncertainty of the hazard should be considered but this can lead to added complexity preventing fast decision making. Here we present a risk matrix approach that combines uncertainty estimation and volcanic ash hazard forecasting into a simple warning system for aviation.
 
To demonstrate the methodology, an ensemble is used to characterise uncertainty in ash dosages and concentrations for trans-Atlantic air-routes intersecting ash clouds produced by a hypothetical Icelandic eruption. This approach has been developed in collaboration with operators, regulators and engine manufacturers; it demonstrates how an assessment of ash dosage and concentration risk can be used to make fast and robust flight-planning decisions even when the model uncertainty spans several orders of magnitude. The results highlight the benefit of using an ensemble over a deterministic forecast and a new method for visualising dosage risk along flight paths.

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