Balloon-Borne probes measure volcanic ash
Measuring Volcanic Ash
Unique probes attached to meteorological balloons which were developed to measure desert dust, are being used to measure levels of volcanic ash over the UK.
The probes were developed last year by scientists at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Reading to measure Saharan dust storms and three of them are being launched in stages from Stanraer in Scotland to support Met Office models.
4km high and 600 metre thick layers
“We launched the first one on Monday (19 April) and found a four kilometre high, 600 metre thick layer of dust which was in keeping with Met Office findings,” said Dr Joseph Ulanowski at the University of Hertfordshire’s Science and Technology Research Institute. “Volcanic ash is much like a desert storm and we estimated that a typical jet engine would ingest some 60 billion of these highly abrasive dust particles every second.”
According to Dr Ulanowski, aircraft have zero tolerance to volcanic ash; the only safe approach would be to open up air corridors in areas where there is no dust in the atmosphere.
More probes to be launched
The team plan to launch the next probe when Met Office models forecast the next dust cloud over Scotland.
“We expect temporary gaps in the dust, and for it to be episodic until the weather changes,” Dr Ulanowski added. “In the meantime, we will use our probes sparingly so that we can endorse Met Office models.”For more information and please contact the University of Hertfordshire Media & PR team on tel +44 (0)1707 28 5163.