New Zealand researchers and the country’s government-backed earthquake insurer are developing new forecasting models for volcanic ash fall only weeks after the first volcano catastrophe bond was created using ash fall as a trigger.
According to an announcement from New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC), the model will combine existing eruption scenarios with weather forecasting “to better predict the likelihood of an area being affected by volcanic ash fall.”
The model is a joint effort of New Zealand-based GNS Science, MetService and EQC.
“The new tool will be valuable to inform the affected communities about the probability of ash falling in their area, and whether it is light or heavy. The ash fall forecasts are based on high resolution weather and dispersion models that we fine-tune for New Zealand weather,” said MetService scientist Dr Rosa Trancoso in a statement.
According to the EQC, the new forecasting models will be able to provide more accurate estimates of how much ash will land, but also when it is likely to arrive.
During previous eruptions GNS Science would focused on ash deposits, while MetService would focus on aviation impacts, such as 1995 eruption at Ruapehu and the Tongariro eruption in 2012 significantly affected air travel over New Zealand.
The new project will advance this work by providing the chance of ash being present in a particular area following an eruption.
“A better model for ash fall forecasting means decision-makers like emergency managers, councils and homeowners will have more accurate information about the likelihood and severity of ash fall in their area, so that they can take appropriate action,” said
“Depending on weather, ash can travel long distances and impact communities who may not normally consider themselves at risk from the impacts of an eruption,” said EQC’s Manager of Research, Dr Natalie Balfour.
“A better model for ash fall forecasting means decision-makers like emergency managers, councils and homeowners will have more accurate information about the likelihood and severity of ash fall in their area, so that they can take appropriate action.”
In March the Danish Red Cross announced it was offering the world’s first catastrophe bond for volcanic eruptions, with a trigger that measurers the direction of the ash fall and the height of a volcano’s ash plume.