Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Lightning detection helps for early warning of volcanic ash

Researchers use lightning detection for early warning of volcanic ash

New Zealand scientists are playing a key role in developing a new system to give early warning of aviation-endangering volcanic eruptions by detecting the lightning their ash clouds trigger.

The system, publicly unveiled by US researchers today, uses data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) to create automated email alerts within minutes of suspicious lightning activity occurring near volcanoes.

The WWLLN was founded by now retired University of Otago Professor Richard Dowden, and the computer code for generating the new system’s alerts was written by Dunedin-based Otago PhD graduate Dr James Brundell.

Otago Physics researcher Dr Craig Rodger, who leads New Zealand’s WWLLN activities, says the early warning system is an exciting development for both the network and in helping to ensure safer skies.

“In some of the world’s remote regions that otherwise lack good monitoring of volcanic activity, this system could pick up the slack and allow local aviation early warning of potentially hazardous ash plumes,” Dr Rodger says.

In October this year, the system proved its potential by giving the first indication of an eruption of a volcano in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. An hour before the ash cloud appeared in satellite images, an automatic email was sent to Dr Brundell and researchers from the University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey, he says.

The system involves monitoring lightning strokes occurring around all of the world’s 1500 or so volcanoes, as well as more distant lightning from each volcano (up to 100 km) to help determine if new strokes over the volcano are possibly weather related.

Because weather-related lightning is very common in many parts of the world where volcanoes are found, only those in Alaska, the Marianas, and the Russian Far East are currently assigned to the automatic real time alerts, he says.

“To avoid ‘crying wolf’, local meteorological conditions in other regions would need to be more carefully checked before any warnings were issued,” he says.

Dr Rodger says that the warning system is one of the latest in a multitude of research avenues enabled by WWLLN, which has grown into an international consortium of over 60 universities and government laboratories.

The network’s 50 stations that underpin the warning system stretch across the globe, including sites in Dunedin and New Zealand’s Antarctic Scott Base. The stations consist of Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio receivers that register the pulses created by lightning from up to 10,000 kilometres away.

Their data is constantly sent over the internet to two central processing computers – one at the University of Washington in Seattle and the other at the University of Otago – which calculate the location of lightning strikes by triangulating pulse reports from several stations.

Scientists from the University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey announced the ash cloud warning tool today at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting, the largest gathering of Earth scientists in the world.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Yesterday’s Big Parliamentary Air Kiss To China

In order to obtain support from the two major parties, Act Party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden twice had to soften the language of her parliamentary motion yesterday condemning China’s persecution of the Uighurs. The key word “genocide” was deleted. Evidently, the kind of resolution passed by a conservative government in the UK proved to be far too tough for a centre-left Labour government and a centre-right National opposition to countenance. Yesterday, the two major parties were united in their fear of retribution from China... More>>


Public Services: Government Sets Pay And Workforce Expectations For The Public Sector

The Government’s Workforce Policy Statement issued today sets out its expectations for pay and employment relations in the Public Sector, the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Public Service say. “New Zealand has had an exceptionally successful ... More>>


Government: Budget 2021 Reprioritises Nearly $1 Billion

Hon Grant Robertson Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Finance The Government’s strong pandemic response and the better than expected economic recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, ... More>>


Ardern: Speech To China Business Summit

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, ate marie, tena koutou katoa, good morning. I am very happy to be here with you once again at my fourth China Business Summit. ... More>>

PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>


PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels