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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-382
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-382
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 06 Dec 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Modeling volcanic ash aggregation processes and related impacts on the April/May 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano with WRF-Chem

Sean D. Egan1, Martin Stuefer2, Peter W. Webley2, Taryn Lopez2, Catherine F. Cahill2, and Marcus Hirtl3 Sean D. Egan et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 99775, USA
  • 2Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
  • 3Department of Chemical Weather Forecasting, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Wien, 1190, AT

Abstract. Volcanic eruptions eject ash and gases into the atmosphere that can contribute to significant hazards to aviation, public and environment health, and the economy. Several volcanic ash transport and dispersion (VATD) models are in use to simulate volcanic ash transport operationally, but none include a treatment of volcanic ash aggregation processes. Volcanic ash aggregation can greatly reduce the atmospheric budget, dispersion and lifetime of ash particles and therefore its impacts. To enhance our understanding and modeling capabilities of the ash aggregation process, a volcanic ash aggregation scheme was integrated into the Weather Research Forecasting with online Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model. Aggregation rates and ash mass loss in this modified code are calculated in-line with the meteorological conditions, providing a fully coupled treatment of aggregation processes. The updated-model results were compared to field measurements of tephra fallout and in situ airborne measurements of ash particles from the April/May 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland. WRF-Chem, coupled with the newly added aggregation code, modeled ash clouds that agreed spatially and temporally with these in situ and field measurements. A sensitivity study provided insights into the mechanics of the aggregation code by analyzing each aggregation process (collision kernel) independently, as well as by varying the fractal dimension of the newly formed aggregates. In addition, the airborne lifetime (e-folding) of total domain ash mass was analyzed for a range of fractal dimension, and a maximum reduction of 79.5 % of the airborne ash lifetime was noted.

Sean D. Egan et al.
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Sean D. Egan et al.
Model code and software

WRF-Chem Volcanic Ash Aggregation Code S. D. Egan https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3540446

Sean D. Egan et al.
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Short summary
The Weather Research Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model was modified to include a volcanic ash aggregation. The modified WRF-Chem model was run with and without aggregation and changes in the model output were measured. Changes in the lifetime of volcanic as a function of the chosen fractal dimension were quantified. A case study using the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull revealed that the aggregation modifications result in tephra fallout and ash concentrations near observed values.
The Weather Research Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model was modified to include a...
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