Volcanic ash caused by an eruption at the Eyjafjallajoekull Glacier in Iceland.
This had the effect of rendering the United Kingdom closed to all commercial air traffic on 15th April.
The main work at FAAM was initially in support of the ARSF Dornier 228 aircraft. This was done using the existing and highly capable ARSF aircraft and crew, supplemented by FAAM's SO2, CPC and PCASP instruments, and with two FAAM staff on board - Phil Rosenberg as an instrument specialist, and Guy Gratton as Mission Scientist, although most of FAAM's staff have been involved in supporting ARSF's work. This activity has now ceased as the Dornier is undergoing scheduled maintenance.
FAAM's BAe-146-301 large Atmospheric Research Aircraft was at this time stripped of all instrumentation in preparation for a repaint. As a result of the volcano event, the instruments were rapidly refitted and the aircraft has to date flown 4 missions to survey the plume. The team at Cranfield have been busy analysing the data and installing new instrumentation on the aircraft. We remain on standby for any further requests to fly in the vicinity of the plume.
FAAM staff are working in conjunction with colleagues at the Met Office and at the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences in trying to assist measurements of the plume - this is in the form of specialist instrumentation normally flown on board the aircraft, and provision to other organisations of specialist advice. This does make us quite busy, and colleagues are asked to be patient if more routine work is delayed.
Formal press statements concerning this event will most likely be issued via NERC Head Office in Swindon. Additionally, a great deal of information is available from the Met Office. Latest Met Office volcanic ash spread forecasts are available here.