7 May 2010
Oil and Ash from Space- Update
Posted by Dan Satterfield
The upper level winds are not blowing the ash toward the UK today and that is very good news. If they were, there would be widespread cancellations of flights. The cloud is especially thick.
The good news is that late today the eruption has become much quieter and the ash is not as high as earlier.
Geological experts in Iceland are reporting that there are no signs the eruption will end anytime soon.
Sensors on most of the weather satellites are not really designed to see the ash. There has been a lot of work recently to use the available sensors to see as much as possible. The best way to see it is to use LIDAR. This is a form of radar using lasers. The UK Met office has had considerable luck using this from the ground to look at the ash cloud over the UK.
This event and the oil slick in the Gulf highlight the incredible usefulness of using remote sensing instruments in orbit. They pay for themselves many times over. The USA and Europe have fallen behind in putting these sensors on orbital platforms.
The technology is there, we just need to use it.
Here below is the latest view of the oil slick in the Gulf. Keep in mind you are only seeing the heaviest patch of oil. It is much more widespread than it appears.
The movement of both the ash and the oil are very dependent on the atmospheric winds. The winds may start blowing the ash back toward Europe next week. The oil is much more difficult to predict…