Volcanic ash

The 1st Satellite Observations of Volcanic Clouds Conference

This conference has been set up by an international collaboration of scientists from the Met Office, University of Reading, the Convective and Volcanic Clouds (CVC) training school organising group, and several other institutions.

Conference goals

  1. (Re-)connect the entire community of experts in satellite observations of volcanic ash.
  2. Highlight the need for improved understanding and evaluation of uncertainty in satellite volcanic data, in particular with the new requirements from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to generate probabilistic forecasts as part of the Quantitative Volcanic Ash (QVA) demands.
  3. Begin defining standard datasets that can be used for detection and retrieval algorithm evaluation and discuss maintenance of these datasets.

Content of the conference

The conference will consist of a mixture of oral presentations and discussion sessions. Details on abstract submission for oral presentations are at the bottom of this page.

The below plan is an outline of the content of the conference and topics for abstract submission but is dependent on the submitted abstracts.

Wednesday 7th June:

Presentations on latest satellite observations of volcanic clouds, including presentations related to the following topics:

  • Observations of various volcanic cloud constituents (i.e. detection of mixed volcanic clouds (containing ash, SO2 and/or water/ice) and simultaneous retrievals of ash, SO2 and/or water/ice).
  • Comparisons of satellite data to independent observations (e.g. ground deposits, aircraft, LIDAR).
  • Upcoming improvements to algorithms.
  • Upcoming improvements from instrument development (e.g. next-generation satellites).
  • Multi-sensor approaches (both combining different satellites and combining satellite and other observational data).

Thursday 8th June:

Presentations and discussion around uncertainty in volcanic cloud data, in particular addressing the following questions:

  • What systematic biases and uncertainties exist (e.g. optically thick clouds, ice rich clouds, clouds with limited fine ash)?
  • How significant is random uncertainty?
  • How is our data used and how do we handle uncertainty in the data in an operational setting (i.e. both in forecast evaluation and through data fusion methods, including insertion/inversion)?
  • How can we constrain the systematic biases and uncertainties better?

Friday 9th June:

Presentations and discussion around standard datasets and methods of evaluation for ash and SO2 detection and retrieval algorithms:

Key questions:

  • What is currently available (e.g. 2015 and 2018 intercomparison data (including human expert analysis), Etna cases)?
  • Should the standard datasets consist of real or simulated data or both?
  • What is the best available verification data?
  • Which sensors should be included?
  • How frequently should it be updated?
  • What methods of evaluation currently exist (e.g. POD, FAR, etc.)? What are the strengths and limitations of each? Which method or combination of methods best reflects the meaningful performance of a detection and retrieval method, and how user-dependent is this?
  • When could another intercomparison be arranged (perhaps 2024)? Would an in-person meeting be possible for this?


3rd April: Announcement of conference.

3rd May: Abstract submission deadline.

15th May: Presentation confirmation.

7th-9th June: 1st Satellite Observations of Volcanic Clouds Conference (SOVCC).

Registration and abstract submission

Attendance is open to all, but we are particularly keen for anyone who has an interest in satellite observations of volcanic clouds to attend. This should not be limited to scientists that work directly with satellite data, but we would also welcome members of the dispersion modelling community and those working with other observations of volcanic clouds to attend and learn more about satellite volcanic cloud data and contribute to discussion sessions.

The conference will be held from around 1100 UTC until around 1500 UTC each day via Microsoft Teams. Final times will be confirmed when final presenters are selected, such that they may be able to present at a more reasonable time given their respective time zone.

If you are interested in attending (but not presenting), then please email [email protected] with your email address and select ‘no’ on the abstract submission option. Your email address will simply be added to a distribution list, which will not be publicly viewable, to provide information and Teams links for the conference. If you would like your email address to be deleted after the conference, please select 'yes' in the relevant option. If not, your email address may be included in communications regarding future conferences.

If you would like to give a presentation, please add a short (max. 250 words) abstract and title in the section indicated in the email template above (note that it is not necessary to fill in the form twice to attend and present!). Oral presentations will be approximately 15 minutes in duration with 5 additional minutes for Q and A.

The closing date for abstract submission is Wednesday 3rd May. Registration for attendance without an abstract is open until the dates of the conference.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Whether you will be presenting work at the conference or not, this is still a great opportunity to catch up on what is happening with satellite observations of volcanic clouds, ask questions, discuss ideas, and build better links and collaborations.