Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed a satellite-based prediction tool for volcanic ash distribution. It generates detailed images of areas with both heavy and light ash loads.
Early this week, NASA satellites were first able to capture infrared images from space of the active Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland. Up until now, "satellite imagery has been scarce because of persistent cloud cover and a relatively small number of spacecraft that collect images at high latitudes," as NASA reported.
Predicting the exact dispersal of a volcanic ash cloud is never going to be easy. However, satellitedata are showing that the eruption from Iceland's Grímsvötn volcano this week was unlikely to have posed a significant threat to airspace over central Europe.
24 May 2011 – Members of a United Nations network of volcanic ash advisory centres around the world are monitoring a volcano in Iceland that has erupted and spewed ash high into the air, disrupting airline travel over parts of Europe.
The Grímsvötn volcano in south-eastern Iceland, which began erupting on Saturday, has ejected ash to a height of at least 10 kilometres, according to Clare Nullis, a spokesperson for the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
A massive cloud of volcanic dust has covered vast areas of northern Europe after the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano erupted in Iceland on 14 April. About 20 countries closed their airspace as consequence. The disruption has affected hundreds of thousands of travellers worldwide.