In 2010 a volcano erupted in Greenland that resulted in massive disruption of the airspace over Europe. The UK is installing a system of atmospheric lidar sensors to address future eruptions.
“We’ve got three bands of ash – low, medium and high, which is defined by the amount of ash in the air – that defines where airlines can fly,” said Jonathan Nicholson of the Civil Aviation Authority.
“If the airline has arranged with us that they can fly in the low and medium bands, then they’re free to make their own choices. So we should see much less disruption with the same amount of ash as we saw during the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.”
Working out whether an ash cloud is low, medium or high is where the new government-funded network comes in. It will be made up of 10 instruments called Light Detection and Ranging Systems, or Lidar.