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What are atmospheric trajectory models?
Atmospheric trajectory models use meteorological data and mathematical equations to simulate transport in the atmosphere. Generally, the position of particles or parcels of air with time are calculated based on meteorological data such as wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and pressure. Model results depend on the spatial and temporal resolution of the atmospheric data used, and also on the complexity of the model itself. Simpler models may deal with only 2-dimensional transport by winds, while more complex models may include 3-dimensional chemical and thermodynamic processes such as aerosol formation, convection, and turbulent diffusion.
How are trajectory models important to the study of volcanic clouds?
Immediately after ejection from the volcano, explosive volcanic ash and gas emissions are at the mercy of the atmosphere. However, they are extremely hard to study both near and distant from the volcano. In the proximity of the volcano, high winds, turbulence, lightning, and air-borne pyroclastics prevent direct sampling and detailed measurements from aircraft. Drifting ash and gas clouds that have separted from the volcano are difficult to study due to the often extreme altitudes at which they are emplaced, their hazards aircraft, and their difficulty to identify once they begin to disperse. Therefore, atmospheric models which can accurately depict the behavior of volcanic ash and gas offer several advantages:
- model and study behavior that is
diffucult or impossible to observe and sample
Current Models Applied to Volcanic Cloud Studies
Below is a list of some of the current atmospheric models being applied to volcanic cloud studies. Some of the models were developed specifically to model volcanic emissions. Others were developed initially for other purposes, but have been successfully applied to the study of volcanic clouds. Click on a model name to get more detailed information!
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