Met Office in the Media: 26th May 2011

Our scientists and forecasters have been at the centre of providing advice to the aviation, industry and government over the last week in support of the eruption of the Grimsvotn eruption in Iceland this week. Following ash across the UK we continue to see an improving picture as we head toward the Bank Holiday weekend.

This was covered on the BBC Ten O’Clock News last night as flights resumed across the UK, highlighting the latest ash cloud forecast outlook charts.  The Daily Express and The Sun have also both reported on the clearance of ash.  The Daily Mail reported that ‘Half term is on again‘ after yesterday reporting that there was likely to be widespread disruption into the weekend.  However we had previously made it very clear that beyond 24 hours the situation becomes more uncertain as it is difficult for the Iceland Meteorological Office to know how the volcano will behave. Weather patterns also become more variable leading to a dynamic situation. Both these facts mean that longer range charts  have less confidence than short range output and this should be considered when they are used. Following the volcano stopping to erupt and more observational data being gathered on ash emitted at the beginning of the eruption, ash concentrations over the UK on Friday and into the weekend are likely to be at levels that, according to the CAA, are not prohibitive to flying safely.

Finally, Steve Connor in the Independent has written an article  ‘The real danger to air passengers is not the ash cloud – it’s these men’. The article looks at the danger volcanic ash poses to aircraft and the work of the CAA and Met Office in ensuring that airlines can operate safely, highlighting the ‘ plethora of scientific instruments, from optical sensing machines on the ground to satellites in space’ used to identify whereabouts of the ash.

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