News Release

An international expert community of volcano observatories, academic scientists, volcanic ash advisory centres and representatives of aviation regulators, engine manufacturers and airlines met in Geneva on 18-20 November 2013 to discuss progress on ash dispersal forecasting and produce a roadmap for the future.

The workshop, at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was sponsored by WMO, the University of Geneva, the British Geological Survey, the UK Met Office, the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics and the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior. It followed a pioneering workshop held in response to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland in 2010.

A great deal of scientific progress has been made since 2010 in the characterisation of volcanic eruptions and in ash dispersal modelling and forecasting as a result of increased multidisciplinary collaboration.

The workshop identified priorities to maximise national and international cooperation and advancement of scientific research. These include the need for systematic ground and space-borne monitoring, increased integration of observations with forecast models and further opportunities to share knowledge and experience across the community.

Worldwide, there are about 20 volcanoes erupting at any given time, posing a potential hazard to aviation. Since 1973 there have been 120 reported aviation incidents due to volcanic ash, including 26 cases of very severe engine damage and 9 incidents of in-flight engine failure. Several recent eruptions (such as Eyjafjallajokull 2010, Iceland, and Cordon Caulle 2011, Chile) are a stark reminder of the need to plan for, and be able to respond effectively to, future eruptions to minimize disruption to air transport and to protect human safety.

The Organizing Committee
Costanza Bonadonna, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Arnau Folch, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain
Sue Loughlin, British Geological Survey, UK
Matthew Hort, Met Office, UK
Peter Webley, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
Herbert Puempel, World Meteorological Organization