Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 22131-22218, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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Airborne observations of the Eyjafjalla volcano ash cloud over Europe during air space closure in April and May 2010
U. Schumann1, B. Weinzierl1, O. Reitebuch1, H. Schlager1, A. Minikin1, C. Forster1, R. Baumann1, T. Sailer1, K. Graf1, H. Mannstein1, C. Voigt1, S. Rahm1, R. Simmet1, M. Scheibe1, M. Lichtenstern1, P. Stock1, H. Rüba1, D. Schäuble1, A. Tafferner1, M. Rautenhaus1, T. Gerz1, H. Ziereis1, M. Krautstrunk2, C. Mallaun2, J.-F. Gayet3, K. Lieke4, K. Kandler4, M. Ebert4, S. Weinbruch4, A. Stohl5, J. Gasteiger6, H. Olafsson7, and K. Sturm8
1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
2DLR, Flugexperimente, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
3Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique UMR 6016/CNRS, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Fd, France
4Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
5Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Kjeller, Norway
6Meteorologisches Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany
7University of Iceland and Icelandic Meteorological Office, Reykjavik, Iceland, and University of Bergen, Norway
8Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach, Germany

Abstract. Airborne measurements of Lidar backscatter, aerosol concentrations (particle diameters of 4 nm to 50 μm), trace gas mixing ratios (SO2, CO, O3, H2O), single particle properties, and meteorological parameters have been performed in volcanic ash plumes with the Falcon aircraft operated by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). A series of 17 flights was performed over Europe between Southern Germany and Iceland during the eruption period of the Eyjafjalla1 volcano between 19 April and 18 May 2010. Flight planning and measurement analyses were supported by a refined Meteosat ash product and trajectory model analysis. The volcanic ash plume was observed with Lidar directly over the volcano and up to a distance of 2700 km downwind. Lidar and in-situ measurements covered plume ages of 7 h to 120 h. Aged ash layers were between a few 100 m to 3 km deep, occurred between 1 and 7 km altitude, and were typically 100 to 300 km wide. Particles collected by impactors had diameters up to 20 μm diameter, with size and age dependent composition. Ash mass concentration was evaluated for a material density of 2.6 g cm−3 and for either weakly or moderately absorbing coarse mode particles (refractive index 1.59+0i or 1.59+0.004i). In the absorbing case, the ash concentration is about a factor of four larger than in the non-absorbing limit. Because of sedimentation constraints, the smaller results are the more realistic ones for aged plumes. The Falcon flew in ash clouds up to about 1 mg m−3 for a few minutes and in an ash cloud with more than 0.2 mg m−3 mean-concentration for about one hour without engine damages. In fresh plumes, the SO2 concentration was correlated with the ash mass concentration. Typically, 0.5 mg m−3 ash concentration was related to about 100 nmol mol−31 SO2 mixing ratio and 70 nmol mol−1 CO mixing ratio increases for this volcano period. In aged plumes, layers with enhanced coarse mode particle concentration but without SO2 enhancements occurred. To first order, ash concentration and SO2 mixing ratio in the plumes decreased by a factor of two within less than a day. The ash plumes were often visible as faint dark layers even for concentrations below 0.1 mg m−3. The ozone concentrations and the humidity inside the plumes were often reduced compared to ambient values. The large abundance of volatile Aitken mode particles suggests nucleation of sulfuric acid droplets. Ammonium sulfate particles were also found on the impactors. The effective diameters decreased from about 5 μm in the fresh plume to about 1 μm for plume ages of up to 6 days. The distal ash mass flux on 2 May was of the order 1800 kg s−1; the SO2 mass flux was about a factor of 3–4 smaller. The volcano ejected about 40 Tg of ash mass and 10 Tg of SO2 during the whole eruption period. The results of the Falcon flights were used to support the responsible agencies in their decisions concerning air traffic in the presence of volcanic ash. The data described may be used for further studies, including comparisons to satellite and ground or space based Lidar observations, and for model improvements.

1 Also known as Eyjafjallajökull or Eyjafjöll volcano,

Citation: Schumann, U., Weinzierl, B., Reitebuch, O., Schlager, H., Minikin, A., Forster, C., Baumann, R., Sailer, T., Graf, K., Mannstein, H., Voigt, C., Rahm, S., Simmet, R., Scheibe, M., Lichtenstern, M., Stock, P., Rüba, H., Schäuble, D., Tafferner, A., Rautenhaus, M., Gerz, T., Ziereis, H., Krautstrunk, M., Mallaun, C., Gayet, J.-F., Lieke, K., Kandler, K., Ebert, M., Weinbruch, S., Stohl, A., Gasteiger, J., Olafsson, H., and Sturm, K.: Airborne observations of the Eyjafjalla volcano ash cloud over Europe during air space closure in April and May 2010, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 22131-22218, doi:10.5194/acpd-10-22131-2010, 2010.
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