VAAC: related activities, organisations and links
The Met Office and London VAAC collaborate with many organisations and are active participants in international volcanic ash related exercises, working groups and projects.
Information on the status of volcanoes and signs of unrest or activity is provided to the Met Office by the State Volcano Observatory, which for Icelandic volcanoes in the London VAAC region is IMO. A weekly communication between the Met Office and IMO takes place throughout the year even when there is no sign of activity.
International multi-organisation volcanic ash exercises e.g. VOLCEX, take place on a regular basis to ensure that VAAC forecasters remain practised at their response to an eruption and that the communication chain is working effectively. In addition, monthly bi-lateral exercises take place between London VAAC, IMO, and Isavia (the Icelandic aviation service provider), again to ensure that all the teams are well-practiced in responding to an eruption and that the communications between these three institutes is smooth.
The BGS volcanology team studies volcanoes all over the world. BGS, the Met Office, Edinburgh University and other institutions in the UK coordinated volcanic ash sample collection during the Grímsvötn eruption of 2011, see Grimsvotn ash collection
In 2010, the Met Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering the exchange of information and resources relating to volcanic eruptions in Iceland. This ongoing cooperation involves members of the IMO, the Met Office, BGS and NCAS. Regular meetings take place to enable the institutions to share information and initiate collaborative projects on developments and activities relating to volcanic ash observations, dispersion modelling, pre-eruption alerting protocols and communication strategies.
Aviation related organisations
ICAO is responsible for the coordination of globally agreed volcanic ash requirements and recommended practices. ICAO has 7 regional offices including the European and North Atlantic (EUR/NAT) office based in Paris.
The CAA are the UK's specialist aviation regulators. Supplementary guidance products are provided by the Met Office under designation from the CAA in the form of concentration charts (i.e. of ash in the volcanic cloud) and annotated satellite images in support of the European Volcanic Ash Contingency Plan.
NATS provides air traffic navigation services to aircraft flying through UK controlled airspace and at several UK and international airports.
Volcanic ash working groups
The Met Office are active participants in a number of cross-disciplinary and multi-organisational volcanic ash related working groups at the national and international level. These involve aircraft/engine manufacturers and operators, regulators, other meteorological agencies and VAACs, government officials and research centres/academia.
Groups include the ICAO led IAVWOPSG, the CAA led VAAG, and the DfT led VAORG and the IUGG/WMO led VASAG. VASAG Reports can be viewed on the WMO website.
The Met Office have led international workshops for 'VAAC best practice' and 'Ash Dispersal Forecast and Civil Aviation' topics.
Ongoing major projects
FUTUREVOLC is a 26-partner project funded by FP7 Environment Programme of the European Commission, addressing the topic "Long-term monitoring experiment in geologically active regions of Europe prone to natural hazards: the Supersite concept". The project is led by the University of Iceland together with IMO. The Met Office is leading the Demonstration work package of FUTUREVOLC to provide the operational focus, and the VAAC has a keen interest in the project in terms of helping to improve the flow of information between stakeholders, improving the knowledge of Iceland eruption characteristics and precursory information, and improving the data sources for dipsersion modelling. The Met Office is also funded under this project to conduct research into a variety of dispersion modelling related aspects, including resuspended ash and buoyant plume models.