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Ash clouds threaten air traffic

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Ash clouds threaten air traffic

Old 3rd Mar 2011, 00:34
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Interesting article from the BBC on how 'officials got it wrong on volcanic ash'.

BBC News - Officials 'wrong' on volcanic ash
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 01:29
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Interesting article from the BBC on how 'officials got it wrong on volcanic ash'.
I believe this was covered a week ago in the Tech section.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 07:27
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I'm not sure I agree with that article. A quick scan read gives the impression that the earth scientists were actively telling the UK govt/CAA about the threat of volcanos. I can't remember any such thing. I think the problem is more that one group of scientists doesn't talk to another group. Earth scientists don't really talk to aerospace scientists, and neither group talks to the government.

Also, a quick literature search doesn't show up much evidence that Vulcanologists were warning of an imminent eruption, the only papers I can find related to iceland are saying the opposite.

(edit) Rubbish spelling.

Last edited by Nemrytter; 3rd Mar 2011 at 13:32.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 09:03
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Simon,

I am surmising that your statement:

I'm not sure I agree with that article. A quick scan read gives the impression that the earth scientists were actively telling the UK govt/CAA about the threat of volcanos. I can't remember any such thing. I think the problem is more that one group of scientist isn't talking to another group. Earth scientists don't really talk to aerospace scientists, and neither group talks to the government.

Also, a quick literature search doesn't show up much evidence that Vulcanologists were warning of an imminent eruption, the only papers I can find realted to iceland are saying hte opposite.
is concluded from this statement in the article:

"The broader Earth science community had been predicting events around Iceland for some considerable time," Mr Miller said.

"That should have alerted the Civil Aviation Authority at a much, much earlier stage and we should have planned for that event."
As you will note from the article, Mr. Miller is Labour MP Andrew Miller, who's party was in administration during the farce. It can also be drawn from the quote above from Mr. Miller that he is attempting to direct responsibility to the CAA and away from the government failings.

However, this quote is rather telling :

Professor Beddington said: "We didn't expect volcanic ash - that wasn't on our risk assessment. It probably should have been when you look at the relative frequency of volcanic events in Iceland. We should have had that on the risk register".

When asked whether the the government had got it wrong over volcanic ash, Prof Beddington replied: "We failed to predict it was a likely event - absolutely."
The farce has been subject to thread discussions at length and there is not much point in rehashing the whole lot again and run around in circles. If you want to push an agenda then fine, thats up to you, but expect to be called on it.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 10:19
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This latest news report is some completely self-seeking publicity by "scientists" for their own works. Possibly at a time when government financial support for various projects, scientific and otherwise, is being reduced, we should expect more such.

If the scientists were saying that the huge no-fly area was completely inaccurately calculated, and scientists should have identified what was done was a nonsense, fair enough. But they don't. This is about them playing a part in predicting volcanic eruptions in the first place and how likely this is. They are saying that they would have predicted the Iceland volcano as more likely than was believed.

What would be even more useful would be if they had predicted by scientific means that after 999 volcano eruptions in recent years which were handled fine, the 1,000th would result in ludicrous behaviour by civil servants who do not know one end of a volcano fromn the other.

Clever presentation of the press release allows a perception to be made to many that they are saying that if we had paid more attention to scientists, there wouldn't have been the disruption. It comes over like this in this morning's TV summaries which show a backdrop of thousands sat in departure lounges, the implication being that we would not have been sat there, delayed, if scientists had been listened to. Reading the report fully (which few will do) shows they don't say any such thing.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 11:27
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WHBM,

You're on the money there. One should always scratch beneath the surface for the reality, not take PR at face value. This situation is no different.

Flawed computer models may have exaggerated the effects of an Icelandic volcano eruption that has grounded tens of thousands of flights, stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers and cost businesses hundreds of millions of euros. The computer models that guided decisions to impose a no-fly zone across most of Europe in recent days are based on incomplete science and limited data, according to European officials. As a result, they may have over-stated the risks to the public, needlessly grounding flights and damaging businesses. "It is a black box in certain areas," Matthias Ruete, the EU's director-general for mobility and transport, said on Monday, noting that many of the assumptions in the computer models were not backed by scientific evidence. European authorities were not sure about scientific questions, such as what concentration of ash was hazardous for jet engines, or at what rate ash fell from the sky, Mr. Ruete said. "It's one of the elements where, as far as I know, we're not quite clear about it," he admitted. He also noted that early results of the 40-odd test flights conducted over the weekend by European airlines, such as KLM and Air France, suggested that the risk was less than the computer models had indicated. – Financial Times
The US is to slash all funding for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the result of a proposed budget amendment by Republican Party Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer that was voted in on Saturday.
The US House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority, has agreed to remove $2.3m from the IPCC funding budget as part of $61bn in cuts that were voted through.
Luetkemeyer slammed the cross-governmental IPCC for engaging in ‘dubious’ scientific methods in what was dubbed the Climategate scandal.
The UN environmental body was accused of covering-up scientific results and arguments that opposed climate change theory, as its employees were asked to destroy certain emails.
Luetkemeyer reportedly wrote, ‘The IPCC is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for.’
with income sources being limited, the 'scientific' community needs new sources of income?


Ash cloud models – overrated? A word on Post Normal Science by Dr. Jerome Ravetz | Watts Up With That?
Here is what Professor Jerom Ravetz of Oxford has to say about the issue (via email):
Interim contribution to the Post-Normal Science debate.
Considering the effects of the Icelandic volcano on air transport, we seem to have:
  • Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?
  • Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.
  • Stakes High: Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.
  • Decisions Urgent: Every day the immediate costs mount, and the long-term costs grow.
Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat? Some of my critics would say so, and perhaps even some of my supporters as well!

Last edited by stuckgear; 3rd Mar 2011 at 11:38.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 12:03
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Originally Posted by stuckgear
WHBM, You're on the money there
If you are referring to this quote,

Originally Posted by WHBM
This latest news report is some completely self-seeking publicity by "scientists" for their own works.
then he most certainly is not.

This "latest news report" concerns the witness of the government's chief scientist before a Parliamentary Committee, which is currently holding hearings.

PBL
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 12:27
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Good couple of reports here from the Royal Aeronuatical Society on Ash Cloud lessons and implications for the aerospace sector...

Under the ash cloud | Aerospace Insight | The Royal Aeronautical Society

and a more in-depth free specialist paper to d/l too...

http://www.aerosociety.com/cms/uploa...lcanic_Ash.pdf
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 13:09
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Originally Posted by PBL
This "latest news report" concerns the witness of the government's chief scientist before a Parliamentary Committee, which is currently holding hearings.
That is exactly what I am referring to. Evidence to parliamentary committees is as thought-through by PR teams as anything that ends up in the media, and commonly press-released in parallel (with useful soundbite paragraphs at the bottom for news editors) the second after it has been said.
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Old 3rd Mar 2011, 13:31
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The farce has been subject to thread discussions at length and there is not much point in rehashing the whole lot again and run around in circles. If you want to push an agenda then fine, thats up to you, but expect to be called on it.
What are you on about? I posted because someone else put the article up and it's a subject I'm interested in from a scientific perspective. I'm not British and don't live in the UK, so the politics behind it are of no interest to me.
Of course, you're more than welcome to disagree with my comments, but disagreeing with them on a political basis that I'm not even aware of is a bit much
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Old 26th Apr 2011, 11:58
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"Europe was right to halt flights after volcano" - New Scientist

New Scientist reports on the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences:
The ash pumped out by the Icelandic volcano last year posed a serious risk to aircraft, a new analysis suggests, vindicating the decision to halt flights over Europe following the eruption.
...
[Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research] says the results show Europe was right to close its airspace. But, he adds, with better monitoring – including the sorts of real-time measurements Stipp carried out – it would be possible to keep some airspace open, with planes steered into corridors away from the worst of the ash.
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Old 26th Apr 2011, 18:45
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This press release is already running in the Tech section
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Old 27th Apr 2011, 11:19
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The question is why airline executives have not been sued or even prosecuted for failing they duty to shareholders and having Business Impact Analysis (which they are supposed to act upon) and Business Continuity Plan for this event?

It is a legal requirement, after all, to do this and they were fully aware of the potential impact.
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Old 2nd May 2011, 21:25
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Why is it that my car is getting more crap on it now than when we were all scare mongered about the volcanic ash earlier?

Will we be having no fly zones to prevent a build up of pollen, and in turn honey, in jet engines clogging them up?
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Old 3rd May 2011, 09:24
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Tests on ash show volcano flight ban was right - Herald Scotland | News | Home News

"Some critics questioned whether it was justified, but now the new scientific report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes it was.

Researchers analysed samples of ash from the volcano and found they were capable of causing an air disaster.
The fragments remained sharp and abrasive even after attempts to blunt the particles by stirring them in water.
They would have sandblasted aircraft windows, making them impossible to see through, and could have stalled engines.
The report is at odds with claims made by airlines after European airspace was closed last year.
Some operators said that safety measures imposed by the semi-privatised air traffic control organisation, Nats, were an over-reaction."

The researchers, led by Dr Sigurdur Gislason from the University of Iceland, wrote: “The very sharp, hard particles put aircraft at risk from abrasion on windows and body and from melting in jet engines. In the lab, ash particles did not become less sharp during two weeks of stirring in water, so airborne particles would remain sharp even after days of interaction with each other and water in clouds. Thus, concerns for air transport were well-grounded.”
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Old 3rd May 2011, 09:48
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The issue was never whether ash can cause damage to aircraft and engines, of course it can, the experiences of BA in Indonesia and KLM in Alaska are well enough documented.

The issue was with the critical density within the cloud and at its margins, how it was moving and how it was dissipating; I haven't read the report, but does it really make a convincing case that a sufficiently high risk necessitated the closure of airspace as far as the Adriatic coast within the first couple of days of the event? If so, how was it that this risk had suddenly disappeared by day 4, when almost all the affected airspace was reopened, leaving the 'danger area' where it had been all the time, a relatively limited region, at a relatively limited altitude, over the sea between Iceland, Scotland and Norway.
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