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Russian eruption warning systems for aviation


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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Air Route Traffic Control Center


Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer


Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer


Alaska Volcano Observatory


Center Weather Service Unit


Flight Information Region


International Air Transport Association


International Civil Aviation Organization


Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team


Meteorological Impact Statement


Multi-Functional Transport Satellite


Meteorological Watch Office


Moderate Resolution Imagine Spectrometer


North Pacific


Notice to Airmen


Ozone Monitoring Instrument


Pacific Organized Track System


Russian Trans East (air routes)


Russian American Coordinating Group for Air Traffic


Significant Meteorological Information


Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team


Temporary Flight Restriction


US Geological Survey


Urgent Pilot Report


Volcanic Ash Advisory


Volcanic Ash Advisory Center


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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).

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