Evaluating the structure and magnitude of the ash plume during the initial phase of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption using lidar observations and NAME simulations

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Abstract

[1] The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted explosively on 14 April 2010, emitting a plume of ash into the atmosphere. The ash was transported from Iceland toward Europe where mostly cloud-free skies allowed ground-based lidars at Chilbolton in England and Leipzig in Germany to estimate the mass concentration in the ash cloud as it passed overhead. The UK Met Office's Numerical Atmospheric-dispersion Modeling Environment (NAME) has been used to simulate the evolution of the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano during the initial phase of the ash emissions, 14–16 April 2010. NAME captures the timing and sloped structure of the ash layer observed over Leipzig, close to the central axis of the ash cloud. Relatively small errors in the ash cloud position, probably caused by the cumulative effect of errors in the driving meteorology en route, result in a timing error at distances far from the central axis of the ash cloud. Taking the timing error into account, NAME is able to capture the sloped ash layer over the UK. Comparison of the lidar observations and NAME simulations has allowed an estimation of the plume height time series to be made. It is necessary to include in the model input the large variations in plume height in order to accurately predict the ash cloud structure at long range. Quantitative comparison with the mass concentrations at Leipzig and Chilbolton suggest that around 3% of the total emitted mass is transported as far as these sites by small (<100 μm diameter) ash particles.

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