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Physics Colloquium - Dr Shona Mackie

Monday, 9 April 2018

Physics Department

Dr Shona Mackie

Research Fellow

Department of Physics

University of Otago

"Volcanic Ash - An Uncertain Hazard to Aviation"

Flying an aeroplane in the presence of volcanic ash is dangerous, but grounding flights to prevent this possibility is expensive to the point of impracticability. It is therefore essential that after an ash-producing volcanic eruption, the ash is tracked as it travels through the atmosphere and its path accurately forecast. This allows us to minimise disruption to air travel without endangering lives. In this colloquium I will outline some of the challenges associated with monitoring ash from space, since this is the only practical way to observe trajectories that can circumnavigate the earth, and argue that any derived observations are subject to variable, often high, uncertainty. I will show how a Bayesian approach allows uncertainties to be considered, and included in a user-friendly way, in products for the aviation and insurance industries, and for public bodies with responsibility for regulating. Using this technique helps to bridge the gap between non-technical decision makers who have a responsibility for safety, and scientists who have a responsibility to create an evidence base for those decisions, by communicating what is likely and what is unlikely, based on the information available at the time.

WHEN: Monday 9 April 2018
WHERE: Room 314, Science 3 Building
TIME: 3.00 pm–4.00 pm

All interested are welcome to attend

Light refreshments to follow in Common Room