Vaac toulouse Management Report

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International Civil Aviation Organization




Paris, France, 15 to 19 September 2008

Agenda Item


Operation of the IAVWOPSG


Implementation of the IAVW, including the IAVW Management Report

(Presented by France)


Pursuant to Conclusion 1/2 of the IAVWOPSG/1 Meeting, VAAC Provider States were invited to provide a concise IAVW management report to be presented at every IAVWOPSG meeting covering the period elapsed since the previous meeting and addressing the main features of the IAVW operations, highlighting any recent developments and difficulties and future planned developments. The report prepared by France is attached for the group’s review and consideration.


    1. Since 2007, the operational activity of the Toulouse VAAC area has been overwhelmingly related to African volcanoes, then to Italy. 111 Volcanic Ash Advisories in alphanumerical code and 22 Volcanic Ash Graphics (VAG) were issued during the period.

    2. The VAG were distributed via SADIS service and available in real time on the Toulouse VAAC web site.

    3. Regular training of forecasters in charge of issuing advisories has been going on with at least a one day exercise for elaboration of VAA, VAG a year.

    4. New international exercises and/or tests have been organised and planned in EUR, NAT, AFI and MID region with a step by step program to check firstly the communication networks then abilities and preparedness to deal with real eruptions.

    5. A scientific collaboration has been set up with CTBTO about infrasound detection on some eruptive spots in Europe and Africa.

  2. Operations of the VAAC

    1. In 2007, a total of 62 VAA and 7 VAG were issued

      21 VAA about Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania)

      21 VAA about Nyiragongo (RD Congo)

      10 VAA about Mt ETNA (Italy)

      7 VAA about Le Piton de la Fournaise (Ile de la Réunion)

      2 VAA about Teyr Djebel (Red Sea)

      1 VAA about Stromboli (Italy)

    2. From Jan to May 2008 , 49 VAA and 15 VAG were issued

      21 VAA about Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania)

      9 VAA about Mt ETNA (Italy)

      9 VAA about Mt Chaiten (Chile)

      7 VAA about Nyiragongo (RD Congo)

    3. No real major eruption was acknowledged during the period in the Toulouse VAAC area of responsibility.

    4. The Chaiten eruption in May 2008 showed signature in split window images from Meteosat9, processed by MétéoFrance Spatial Meteorology Centre. A signal in volcanic ash was recognisable during the travel of a VA cloud over southern Atlantic Ocean as far as 6000 km from the initial source and crossed the VAAC Buenos Aires – VAAC Toulouse boundary.

  3. Detection Ability

    1. In addition to ‘Ash Flag’ and ‘Ash Gaze’images, provided by the MétéoFrance Spatial Meteorology Centre (CMS) in Lannion, a false colour ASH processing has been developed and made available on the EUMETSAT website, giving a diagnosis about both SO2 and volcanic ash. An ash detection processed image, based on a similar algorithm is being developed at CMS for implementation on the HMI on VAAC forecaster workstations.

    2. In the frame of SACS (Support to Aviation Control Service), Toulouse VAAC has been provided with operational notification e-mails in near real time about high concentrations of SO2 retrieved from SCIAMACHY measurement, space born on ENVISAT (European Spatial Agency). A meeting on SACS was hosted by Toulouse VAAC in MétéoFrance during November 2007.

    3. Since end 2007, Toulouse VAAC has begun to validate correlations between infrasound detection and explosive activity in some pre-chosen volcanic spots in Europe and Africa. The process is neither simple nor quick. For example, the African volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai provided numerous, nearly continuous, strong detection for months, related to seismic activity more than to eruptive one.

  4. Dissemination :

    1. In September 2007, the issuance of VAG in png (portable network graphic) format for distribution through SADIS by London WAFC has been positively tested. The graphics provide the same information as the VAA content. They are available as well on Toulouse VAAC website in real time.

    2. Some particular provision procedures have been set up between VAAC Toulouse and French ACC to issue VAG directly by fax towards air navigation controllers in the case of pollution of French airspace by volcanic ash.

    3. A bi-lateral exercise involving Azorean MET, ATM and volcanologists has been played using real weather in February 2008. It gave opportunity to test message routing, to verify participants and organisation details, to try direct phone contacts, and train response procedures.

  5. Current And Future Developments

    1. Dispersion model : a new version of MOCAGE (Large Scale Chemical atmospheric Model), developed for nuclear or chemical accidental releases, is currently operational. The volcanic ash dispersion version will be tested from summer 2008 and is planned to be fully operational from early 2009 to replace the current MEDIA model. The meteorological parameters are given by the French model ARPEGE or the model of ECMWF (European Centre for medium range Weather Forecast) on a global domain and at a resolution of 0.5 degrees. The range of forecast can reach 72h for ARPEGE and 180 h for ECMWF with two runs a day (00, 12 UTC)

    2. MOCAGE, a semi-lagrangian model, integrates convection and 3D precipitations to calculate washing. Future developments include taking into account vertical and horizontal distribution of ash particles size.

    3. PERLE is made of MESO-NH, a meso scale non hydrostatic weather model, plus a high resolution dispersion model SPRAY. It can provide data within the European geographic domain at a resolution of 8km on a 240/240 km area, centred on the volcano source. The dispersion model can be tuned to provide a final resolution of 1 km.

    4. MétéoFrance as a RSMC (Regional Specialised Met Centre) designated by WMO is involved in the project ‘Ensemble’ leaded by the Joint Research Centre in Italy. This European project launched in 2000 has now gained maturity. Designed for nuclear accident dispersion modellers, it provides a platform for any model intercomparaison and even for multi-models production based on different single models. MEDIA, MOCAGE and PERLE outputs have already been provided for comparisons on the platform. It could be the place to continue model inter-comparisons as the one run after the Grimsvötn Icelandic eruption or to make tries on multi model prediction.

  6. Contacts and meetings

    1. Toulouse VAAC attended to the WOVO workshop in Perugia (July 2007) during the IUGG meeting. It was an opportunity to get in touch with the Etna section of INGV (Volcanic observatory), but once again it failed to arouse enthusiasm of volcanologists for international cooperation in the frame of IAVW.

    2. Toulouse VAAC presented the IAVW and VAAC’s activities related to the democratic Republic of Congo ( November 2007, Luxembourg) in the European Centre for Geodynamics and Seismology during the 26th ECGS workshop on Active Volcanism & Continental Rifting with special focus on the Virunga (North Kivu, DR of Congo)

    3. Toulouse VAAC participated to a French speaking workshop on SIGMET in Dakar ICAO office for W- AFI, (May 2008) with a presentation about IAVW, proposals for the organisation of international exercises to come, and practice in reading VAA and VAG in order to elaborate and issue VA SIGMETs. Such a workshop (for English speakers) in Nairobi E-AFI ICAO office is planned for November.

    4. A meeting with ENAV (Italian ANSP) and ENAC (Italian CAA) is planned for July 2008.

    5. The VOLCEX/SG1 met in London (June 2008) to plan international large exercises in EUR and NAT region for 2008/2009. An exercise led by Toulouse VAAC simulating an eruption from Azores and involving ATM, MET, volcanologists and airline operators will be played in November 2008.


    1. The IAVWOPSG is invited to note the information in this paper.

      — END —

( pages)

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