ALARM Project at EGU21

ALARM project will participate in the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union EGU21. The project and its main goal will be presented. Furthermore, members of the project will participate with a presentation on the Investigation of flight level contamination using volcanic SO2 plume and cloud top height satellite products. Find both presentation abstracts below.

ALARM Project presentation

Manuel Soler, Hugues Brenot, Riccardo Biondi, Daniel Bannister, Volker Grewe, Tanjia Bolic and Javier García-Heras

We present the SESAR funded project ALARM. The overall objective of ALARM is to develop a prototype global multi-hazard monitoring and Early Warning System for different hazards affecting aviation. Continuous global Earth observations from satellite, ground-based systems, and atmospheric forecasts will be used to feed models capable of observing and predicting (nowcasting/forecasting) the displacement of particles in suspension and gas derived from natural hazards (volcanic ash and SO2, dust clouds from sandstorms, and smoke from a forest fire); severe weather situations such as deep convection and extreme weather; exposure to increased levels of solar radiation during flight; and environmental hotspots potentially contributing to global warming in a large extent. Specifically, the aim is to enhance situational awareness of all stakeholders in case of multiple hazard crisis by facilitating the transfer of required relevant information to end-users, presenting such information in a user-friendly manner to ATM stakeholders. In summary, anticipating severe hazards and fostering better decision-making.

  • ALARM will enhance an existing alert system –– with additional observations coming from geostationary satellites, improving the capabilities of observing natural hazards such as volcanic ash, SO2 plumes, sandstorms, and forest fire.
  • ALARM will tailor alert products (based on observations from satellites) of volcanic ash, SO2 plumes, sandstorms, and forest fire to aviation stakeholders, including its severity, geographical location, and altitude.
  • ALARM will develop nowcasting [up to 2 hours] and short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] of SO2 plumes at a regional scale.
  • ALARM will develop nowcasting [up to 2 hours] and short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] of severe thunderstorms at a local scale (airport).
  • ALARM will develop short-term forecasting [up to 6 hours] and medium-term forecasting [up to 48 hours] of climatic hotspots at a European scale.
  • ALARM will draft the requirements of all these alert products to be included in the SWIM Yellow profile.
Investigation on flight level contamination using volcanic SO2 plume and cloud top height satellite products.

Klaus Sievers, Hugues Brenot, Nicolas Theys and Cathy Kessinger

Volcanic emission is a major risk for air traffic. Flying through a volcanic cloud can have a strong impact on engines (damage caused by ash and/or sulphur dioxide – SO2) and persons. The knowledge of the height of the volcanic plume is indeed essential for pilots, airlines and passengers.
In this presentation, we study recent volcanic emissions to illustrate the difficulty for obtaining information about the height of the SO2 plume in a form relevant to aviation. Our study uses satellite data products. We consider SO2 layer height from TROPOMI (UV-vis hyperspectral sensor on board S5P, a polar orbiting platform), as shown by SACS (Support to Aviation Control Service), combined with cloud top observations (from the same sensors or from geostationary broadband imagers) to determine the minimum SO2-cloud height. This is a validation which is of interest to aviation.
The flight level, not the km, is the measure, the unit for expressing height during cruise flight used on board by the pilots to ensure safe vertical separation between aircraft, despite natural local variations in atmospheric air pressure and temperature. Thus, it is critical to provide the corresponding SO2 contamination expressed as flight levels. Our study will focus on this conversion that is one item currently being developed in the frame of ALARM H2020 project ( and SACS early warning system ( in the creation of NetCDF alert products.

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