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Russian eruption warning systems for aviation

Abstract

More than 65 potentially active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kurile Islands pose a substantial threat to aircraft on the Northern Pacific (NOPAC), Russian Trans-East (RTE), and Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) air routes. The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) monitors and reports on volcanic hazards to aviation for Kamchatka and the north Kuriles. KVERT scientists utilize real-time seismic data, daily satellite views of the region, real-time video, and pilot and field reports of activity to track and alert the aviation industry of hazardous activity. Most Kurile Island volcanoes are monitored by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT) based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. SVERT uses daily moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite images to look for volcanic activity along this 1,250-km chain of islands. Neither operation is staffed 24 h per day. In addition, the vast majority of Russian volcanoes are not monitored seismically in real-time. Other challenges include multiple time-zones and language differences that hamper communication among volcanologists and meteorologists in the US, Japan, and Russia who share the responsibility to issue official warnings. Rapid, consistent verification of explosive eruptions and determination of cloud heights remain significant technical challenges. Despite these difficulties, in more than a decade of frequent eruptive activity in Kamchatka and the northern Kuriles, no damaging encounters with volcanic ash from Russian eruptions have been recorded.

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Abbreviations

ARTCC:

Air Route Traffic Control Center

ASTER:

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer

AVHRR:

Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

AVO:

Alaska Volcano Observatory

CWSU:

Center Weather Service Unit

FIR:

Flight Information Region

IATA:

International Air Transport Association

ICAO:

International Civil Aviation Organization

KVERT:

Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team

MIS:

Meteorological Impact Statement

MTSAT:

Multi-Functional Transport Satellite

MWO:

Meteorological Watch Office

MODIS:

Moderate Resolution Imagine Spectrometer

NOPAC:

North Pacific

NOTAM:

Notice to Airmen

OMI:

Ozone Monitoring Instrument

PACOTS:

Pacific Organized Track System

RTE:

Russian Trans East (air routes)

RACGAT:

Russian American Coordinating Group for Air Traffic

SIGMET:

Significant Meteorological Information

SVERT:

Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team

TFR:

Temporary Flight Restriction

USGS:

US Geological Survey

UUA:

Urgent Pilot Report

VAA:

Volcanic Ash Advisory

VAAC:

Volcanic Ash Advisory Center

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the many Russian, US, and Japanese volcanologists, meteorologists, air traffic controllers, and aviation managers who contribute to effective volcanic eruption warning systems in the Northern Pacific. Alexander Manevich of KVERT and IVS was particularly helpful in the early reviews of this document and in compiling data on Kamchatkan eruptions.

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Correspondence to Christina Neal.

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Neal, C., Girina, O., Senyukov, S. et al. Russian eruption warning systems for aviation. Nat Hazards 51, 245–262 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9347-6

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Keywords

  • Volcanic ash and aircraft safety
  • Kamchatka volcanoes
  • Kurile volcanoes
  • Ash clouds
  • Volcano hazard warnings
  • Volcano hazards
  • Aviation safety