High Tech Lasers Used for Mapping Volcano Ash

In the prevailing aviation lock down, governments in Europe are desperate to get out of the dilemma of, grounding their aviation industry to a complete halt. But even in these times one can’t rely on an educated guess and cost the aviation industry $200 million due to the ash cloud.

In order to guard the Swiss air space, MeteoSwiss Aerological Station in Payerne has developed an ingenious solution of detecting ash clouds through Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar). The importance of this method enables air traffic controllers to direct a flight plan around the ash cloud, therefore enabling greater frequencies of flight throughout the Swiss airspace.

According to Bertrand Calpini, a leading scientist at MeteoSwiss Aerological Station, in order to measure the density of particles in the atmosphere a laser beam is fired in the direction of the ash clouds, part of the laser beam is reflected back to the ground. Light sensitive instruments, measure the amount of light that has been reflected. If there are more light particles bouncing of the atmosphere, then there is a high ratio of ash particles located in that area.  Through this technique a map can be made of the zones where there is large density of ash cloud.  Simultaneously a glider is utilized to detect heavy concentrations of ash particles.

In the latest findings through LIDAR, the volcanic ash is still spewing throughout Europe. There hasn’t been any change in the direction of the winds, which means that as long as there is volcanic activity the volcano will continue to release ash, therefore affecting more flights.

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