Ash cloud models – overrated? A word on Post Normal Science by Dr. Jerome Ravetz

Figure 1. NAME prediction of the visible ash plume resulting from an eruption of Mount Hekla in Iceland on 16 February 2000.

“We sent ten Boeing 747 and Airbus 340 jets on transfer flights from Munich to Frankfurt,” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther told the paper. The planes were moved in order to be in the most useful place once the ban is lifted, he explained.

“Our machines flew to a height of 24,000 feet, or around 8,000 metres. In Frankfurt the machines were examined by our technicians. They didn’t find the slightest scratch on the cockpit windscreens, on the outer skin nor in the engines.”

“The flight ban, which is completely based on computer calculations, is causing economic damage in the billions. This is why, for the future, we demand that dependable measurements must be available before a flight ban is imposed.”

Source: “the Local

At left: the model from the Met Office used to look at dispersion.

The Nuclear Accident Model (NAME) was originally developed after the nuclear accident in 1986 at Chernobyl, which highlighted the need for a capability to predict the spread and deposition of radioactive material released into the atmosphere. The model has continued to be developed and is now applied to a wide range of atmospheric pollution problems, ranging from emergency responses to daily air-quality forecasts.
Over the years, NAME has been applied to a number of atmospheric releases, including radioactive releases, the Kuwaiti oil fires, major industrial fires and chemical spills, and two major volcanic eruptions that occurred in Iceland. Both of these eruptions resulted in aircraft having to be re-routed to avoid potentially dangerous ash clouds. An example of the volcanic ash guidance provided to the aviation community is shown in Figure 1.

Source: NWP Gazette

Here is what Professor Jerom Ravetz of Oxford has to say about the issue (via email):

Interim contribution to the Post-Normal Science debate.

Considering the effects of the Icelandic volcano on air transport, we seem to have:

  • Facts Uncertain:  how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?
  • Values in Dispute:  Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.
  • Stakes High:  Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.
  • Decisions Urgent:  Every day the immediate costs mount, and the long-term costs grow.

Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat?  Some of my critics would say so, and perhaps even some of my supporters as well!

h/t to  WUWT readers Nigel Brereton and Bernd Felsche

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309 thoughts on “Ash cloud models – overrated? A word on Post Normal Science by Dr. Jerome Ravetz

  1. The BBC reports that there is ‘zero tolerance’ on ash.

    ” ‘No tolerance’ rule for volcanic ash”:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8629609.stm

    [Quote] “Over the weekend, [our observations] have detected dust in the atmosphere and on the ground,” the Met Office said on its website.

    “A research aircraft has recently encountered dust during its flight, albeit in fairly low concentrations.”

    And, no matter how low the concentration, aviation authorities will not reinstate normal control over airspace while the ash cloud is still there.

    A spokesperson from from Nats, the UK’s air traffic control authority, told BBC News that there was “no threshold” for concentrations at which volcanic ash was acceptable…Whether to open or close airspace is a decision for national aviation authorities, but all European nations abide by the rules set by ICAO, which recommends implementing a no-fly zone if volcanic ash is detectable in airspace. [end quote]

    Theoretically, therefore, if we have sensitive enough detectors we will always find SOME volcanic ash everywhere in the world. If the only safe threshold is the threshold of detectability, we could soon see all aircraft banned at all times the world over as instrumentation and thus detectability improves. What utter stupidity. There surely has to be an ash density below which the risk to passenger aircraft is acceptable (say, commensurate with other normal hazards), for example 100ug per cubic metre continuously and 1mg per cubic metre for periods not exceeding one hour.

    To adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach is like the Royal Society’s definition of ‘Dangerous Climate Change’ which is that there is no safe limit for climate change. All climate change , however miniscule is always ‘dangerous’:

    “There is no such thing as ‘safe’ climate change…Any level of climate change will be dangerous”

    Whilst it may be exceedingly difficult (or philosophically impossible) to define what is ’safe’, i.e. to define the boundary where it becomes ‘dangerous’, the problem is not solved by eliminating the category ’safe’ and therefore defining the whole universe of possibilities as ‘dangerous’. That neatly avoids the problem of having to define limits of acceptability and thresholds, but it is crass stupidity as well. Since climate has changed ever since the world began, by the Royal Society’s definition it will have always been dangerous.

  2. I don’t think that a REALLY short flight between Frankfurt to Munich really tells anything about the possible effects of the ash. And Germany isn’t even the country with most ash in the atmosphere. When lives can be in direct harm, better to be safe than sorry…

  3. It’s all about the EU bureaucrats’ creeping control over their growing empire. This has been the perfect opportunity to see how the masses will react to being told when and where they can go. The results so far? EU 1 – plebs 0. Barely a peep from the sheep.

  4. This only shows that Post Normal Science creator Jerome Ravetz had some shares of aviation companies in his portfolio.

  5. Funny after posting the original post about the climategate files on Nov 19th
    Tom Fuller and I went to see 2012.

    At one point in the movie after the computer model misforecast the disaster, the head scientist came into the presidents office and said ” I was wrong”

    I turned to Tom and asked ” Do you think anyone at CRU was ever so forthright?”

    While not a luddite I think there is something disturbing about the way we turn decisions over to code. Which is really turning decisions over to programmers. Much as I would like to live in a world governed by “guys like me” It’s clear that if code drives our decisions processes, then that code must be open.

  6. Over the weekend, I did see an article somewhere that mentioned “Met Office” and “computer models.”

    And I thought,

    Hmmm.

  7. So…PNS works as far as it does not touch my wallet.
    Wrong PNS analysis Mr. Qliphot:
    Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?
    Values in Dispute: PASSENGERS LIVES.
    Stakes High: People in danger VERSUS crippling costs to INDUSTRY.
    Decisions Urgent: Stop flights.
    If you were a christian my advice would be: confess your sins to a priest and repent yourself.
    As you are not, my advice to you is: Ask your Rabbi if your PNS agrees with the Torah.


  8. REPLY: This is BOGUS HOAX GARBAGE – IGNORE IT EVERYONE

    I’m leaving it up here so that people know.

    – Anthony
    =================================

    See below email exchange on Iceland volcano links to money and climate change. Seems like something is rotten in the state of Iceland!!!
    —– Forwarded message ———-
    From: Halldor Eggertsson
    Date: Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 8:11 PM
    Subject: Fw: Latest from Iceland
    To: rjedwood@dailymail.co.uk

    Dear Ron,

    The embargo is Midnight GMT 20th April. Please DO NOT publish prior! This is the biggest story our little paper is ever likely to break unless Bjork dies choking on her herrings!!!

    Yeah, this is big story. Lot of people sweating here. I dont know how far this goes but lots of angles.

    When this breaks its going to go crazy here so lets catch up when the dust settles (no pun intended heh!). We think there may be more to the climate change angle. The team is busy following up on that. It looks they made 2.6bn euros before the agencies caught on to them.

    Halldor

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Ron Jedwood (Daily Mail – News Desk)
    Date: Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 7:25 PM
    Subject: Fw: Iceland Volcano
    To: h.eggerstsson@gmail.com; Halldor Eggerstsson (Reykjavik Bureau)

    Hey Halldor,

    Ron from London here, just got your mail. Your phone isnt answering. Must be getting a lot of traffic.

    This is a big story! When are you running this? When can DM go? Unclear on the embargo.

    Call when you can.

    Ron

    —– Forwarded Message —-
    From: Hanfluss Janesbaer
    To: Ron Jedwood (Daily Mail – News Desk)
    CC: Halldor Eggerstsson (Reykjavik Bureau); Fjaldar Sigur Jonsson (Editor); Gunnar Skoleskar (Reykjavik Bureau)
    Sent: Mon, 19 April, 2010 18:51:08
    Subject: RE: Icelandic Volcano

    Attention: Ron Jedwood – News Desk

    FYI below. I received a bounce back message from your e-mail account. Please confirm receipt.

    Rgds,

    Hanfluss Janesbaer

    Reykjavik: 20th April 2010

    GEOTHERMAL COMPANY LINKED TO ERUPTION GROUNDING FLIGHTS

    By Gunnar Skoleskar in Reykjavik and additional reporting from Hanfluss Janesbaer in Amsterdam

    In a new twist to the ongoing eruption of Iceland’s Mount Ejafjallajoekull, spreading volcanic ash and dust across Europe and grounding thousands of flights, investigations into the activities of the energy consultancy, Icelandic Geothermal have revealed massive short selling of airline stocks, a leading airline organization has revealed.

    The Amsterdam based Center for Airline Carbon Emissions (CACE) are investigating claims that Mr. Olaf Selfoss Olafson, founder of the Reykjavik (RSX) listed technology company, sold substantial holdings in several European airlines just weeks before the eruption.

    Olafson’s company, a geo-thermal consultancy, developing technology to harness volcanic lava flows for water heating and steam turbine production has been linked to the eruption, following a several month undercover CACE investigation trailing the activities of Icelandic Geothermal, acquiring incriminating evidence on the way.

    “We know that these guys were involved in the eruption” Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg, in charge of the CACE investigation told us. “Our team of analysts have been following the company’s activities after intelligence analysts intercepted their plans and contacted us.”

    “They hired drilling machines to bore into the area where the volcano erupted, a couple of months ago, and we have video-footage of the lowering of large objects into the bore holes.”

    When asked as to what these large objects could be, Schnellerflugzoeg was vague. “We have a good idea what it may be, and we know that it is a catalyst to volcanic eruptions,” he told reporters.

    “The whole point was to help kill the airline industry and prove that global warming was in part due to aircraft emissions,” Schnellerflugzoeg said. “With aviation grounded, scientists would be able to gather evidence of a drop in mean temperatures and doctor the figures, showing perhaps as much as a 2 degrees centigrade drop.”

    “It’s too early to say whether it may be linked to a wider conspiracy,” he continued, “but we are determined to get to the bottom of this exploding volcano.”

    The fall-out could be sulphurous if there is any evidence linking the climate change lobby to the eruption, already reeling from criticism for providing information leading scientists to predict the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035. “If the climate change lobby is in any way linked to this volcanic eruption, it could be very damaging.” Professor David Sonnenbaum a climate specialist at the University of Berlin told us.

    A spokesperson for Icelandic Geothermal denied any involvement in the eruption or the sale of any airline stocks. “We categorically deny any involvement in the eruption of the volcano,” Lars Grindavic Magnusson, CEO of the company told reporters at a press conference in Reykjavik on Monday.

    Analysis of trades on European Stock Markets, including London, Paris and Frankfurt seems to indicate a substantial turn-over of stock in major airlines in the first week of April, a source close to the CACE investigation told the paper.

    “There’s activity which potentially links the company to the eruption” Verloke Shomes, a senior investigator told our reporter in Amsterdam. “We are investigating a surge of buying activity on the markets on Friday, where a Cayman Islands holding company appears to have bought a lot of stock in publicly listed European carriers at bargain basement prices.”

    The eruption has caused serious disruption to global air-traffic, grounding more than 17,000 flights daily and preventing transit across European airspace, potentially affecting more than 1.7 million travellers a day.

    <<>>

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Hanfluss Janesbaer (Amsterdam Bureau)
    Sent: 19 April 2010 10:02
    To: Reuters (London Desk); AFP (Paris Desk); IHT (Brussels Desk); Associated Press (London Desk); The Times (London Desk); The Daily Telegraph (London); Bild (Editor – Berlin); Le Monde (Paris Desk); Frankfurter Allgemeine (Frankfurt Desk); Editor (El Mundo – Madrid) La Republicca (Rome Desk); IHT (New York Desk); Editor (Washington Post); Editor (New York Times); News Desk (Daily Mail); Editor (Sydney Morning Post); Editor (LA Times) Editor (Straits Times); Editor (China Daily); Editor (South China Morning Post); Editor (Shanghai Daily); Editor (Khaleej Times – Dubai); Editor (Hindustan Times – New Delhi); Editor (Times of India – New Delhi); Editor (Indian Express – New Delhi); Editor (The Bangladesh Today); Editor (Dawn – Karachi); Editor (Kathmandu Post); Editor (Cape Times – South Africa); Editor (Jornal do Brazil); Editor (Buenos Aires Herald); Editor (Ashai Shimbum-Tokyo)
    Cc:
    Subject: Re: Icelandic Volcano

    All. Attached is our piece we have just put out on the Icelandic Volcano, which you may run Midnight GMT 20th April.

    Rgds

    Hanfluss Janesbaer

    > This message
    > and any attachment are confidential and may be privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure.
    > If you are not the intended recipient, please telephone or email the sender and delete this message and any
    >
    >
    >
    > attachment from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy this message or attachment
    > or disclose the contents to any other person.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Fjaldar Sigur Jonsson (Editor)
    Sent: 13 April 2010 16:37
    To: Hanfluss Janesbaer (Amsterdam Bureau); Gunnar Skoleskar (Reykjavik Bureau); Jon Smorgesbord Stefanson (Reykjavik Bureau); Kristabjorg Soren Kjellner (Reykjavik Bureau); Hjalmar Ericson (London Bureau);
    Cc:
    Subject: Re: Final Copy

    Dear team,

    Attached is a piece which we are going to press with in tomorrow’s edition.

    Gunnar, Hanfluss, make sure you double check the copy for any errors and double check your notes for the quotes.

    Some fantastic undercover reporting here. You get your cases of Vodka for this one.

    Hanfluss – Expense the accommodation and keep your meal receipts.

    We’ll syndicate it with the agencies next week.

    Ed

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Hanfluss Janesbaer (Amsterdam Bureau)
    Sent: 13 April 2010 16:37
    To: Fjaldar Sigur Jonsson (Editor); Jon Smorgesbord Stefanson (Reykjavik Bureau); Kristabjorg Soren Kjellner (Reykjavik Bureau); Hjalmar Ericson (London Bureau);
    Cc: Gunnar Skoleskar (Reykjavik Bureau)
    Subject: Re: Final Copy

    Team,

    Eitt tungumál er aldrei nóg. Attached is the final draft in English. Good to go when you’ve checked the facts.

    Gunnar – you’ve got anything to add from Olafson?

    Looks like I’m going to be stuck here in Amsterdam for some time. Hvar er klósettið?

    Brgds
    HJ

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Fjaldar Sigur Jonsson (Editor)
    Sent: 12 April 2010 09:46
    To: Hanfluss Janesbaer (Amsterdam Bureau); Jon Smorgesbord Stefanson (Reykjavik Bureau); Kristabjorg Soren Kjellner (Reykjavik Bureau); Hjalmar Ericson (London Bureau);
    Cc: Gunnar Skoleskar (Reykjavik Bureau)
    Subject: Re: Final Copy

    H – Gætirðu skrifað þetta niður? Any more?

    G – Langt síðan við höfum sést. Speak with Olafson – he’s hiding something, I can smell it. Svifnökkvinn minn er fullur af álum

    Krista – Lawyers?

    What a story! Náið í lögregluna!

    ED
    ==========================

    REPLY: This is BOGUS HOAX GARBAGE – IGNORE IT EVERYONE

    I’m leaving it up here so that people know.

    – Anthony

  9. All of this has been based on the MET’s computer models????

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,689735,00.html

    ‘Air Berlin CEO Joachim Hunold criticized the fact that the results of test flights had no influence on the decision of the air traffic control authorities as to whether to reopen airspace in countries across Europe. “In Germany, no one has even sent up a weather balloon to measure if volcanic ash is in the air, and if so, how much,” Hunold told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.’

  10. Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat?

    It’s an invitation for them to get out of the way and let people with real-world experience handle the issue. Test flights have been safely concluded, some have recommended daytime flying as pilots can see and avoid ash clouds… Those who actually do the flying know they can be flying, those sitting behind computer screens looking at model outputs say they can’t.

    Reality trumps modeling. Experience trumps theory. It’s a reoccurring theme, better get used to it.

  11. The density of ash various tremendously spatially and temporally, with eruption parameters and wind changing constantly. The fact that a few cherry picked test flights made it though safely isn’t particularly interesting.

    Challenger O-Rings worked fine, until they didn’t. The computer simulations are the best tool available.

  12. I’m inclined to side with “better safe, than sorry.” From the AP;
    “BRUSSELS — A senior Western diplomat says several NATO F-16 fighters suffered engine damage after flying through the volcanic ash cloud covering large parts of Europe.
    The official declined to provide more details on the military flights, except to say that glasslike deposits were found inside the planes’ engines after they patroled over European airspace.
    Last week, two Finnish Air Force F-18 fighter-bombers suffered similar damage while flying through the ash plume that has paralyzed air traffic over much of Europe. Both landed safely, but their jet engines will require expensive overhauls.”

  13. More than any other country, Britain has turned into the nanny-state. If the airlines and the passengers agree to take their chances on a flight, then fly they should. Life is full of risks and those that are “better safe than sorry” are a sorry, cramped, gray lot indeed.

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” B. Franklin

  14. Aircraft have been damaged. The BBC reported that “A build-up of glass has been found in the engine of a Nato fighter jet in Europe, a US official says”
    Now, ask yourself, would you risk it? are you feeling lucky? Or should we play safe?

  15. If they need to fly then let them send a small scout aircraft ahead of the larger plane. All it does is monitor the ash etc and send info to the large plane following. If it gets too thick then the small plane changes direction and the large one follows to an altitude without ash before it even hits the thick stuff.

    There are alternatives but shutting everything down in the name of safety first seems to be the default reaction.

  16. Nothing is better than real experimentation… I mean, we are not talking about a sand storm here!

  17. I think I’ll stay in bed for the rest of my life.

    It’s just too dangerous to get up.

    Better safe than sorry :)

  18. Ouch.

    You know what? You who are parroting the “precautionary principle”: get a clue.

    Atmospheric ash is a measurable risk to aircraft. So are storms, turbulence, quality of fuel, loading, etc. etc. etc. It is not very intelligent to believe that zero-ash is the only way to fly.

    It should be the decision of the airlines in this case, and if it requires more frequent engine and window maintenance, then so be it.

  19. No scratches… great.

    But how about fused ash “glass” microcoatings on the high temperature power turbine blades and combustors?

    This has been reported as THE mechanism of major damage on military jets used in similar testing in Europe, not erosion.

  20. Bureaucrats will always destroy the industry they manage. In a bureaucracy you advance by saying no, never by by allowing things to move forward. There is a “policy” of ,When in doubt say NO, you don’t need judgment. Normal people live with risk.

  21. The “no tolerance” rule is just a way to prevent someone from sticking their neck out and being blamed. If no one has to make a decision on what is safe and what isn’t, then no one can be sued for being wrong.

  22. Tero-Petri Ruoko (08:06:36) :
    There are always second order consequences. 9/11 and the fear it produced pushed large numbers of passengers away from airplanes and into their cars. Car travel (per mile) mortality rates are far greater than is air travel and death rates rose dramatically in the months following 9/11.
    Risks are rarely avoided they are transferred . Its at the heart of the precautionary principle fallacy– you must look at all risks not just the ones you choose to fear.

  23. Yet again we see computer models that cannot get the weather right months in advance, claim that they can predict climate 100 years from now, & now tell uss where a dust cloud is or isn’t going to be!

    There just has to be a safe upper & lower limit of volcanic ash definition as we in the construction industry have been operate a trigger system with the Interdepartrmental Committee on the Redevlopment of Contaminated Land guidance!

  24. Funny, on the NationalPost today there is an article about how the EU is planning on using taxpayers money to send poor people on vacations. They say that vacationing is a `human right`. Where do they keep finding all of these extra tax dollars..

  25. I thought that Global Warming science has proven that computer models are reality, not that reality is reality…

  26. I wonder if the 10 747s and A340s were a sort of sacrifice to the volcano in lieu of the traditional virgins, as they couldn’t find any on short notice?

    @ScientistforTruth,

    Clearly it is the ‘wrong sort of ash’?

  27. Iceland major volcanic eruptions since 800AD
    CENTURY -ALL ERUPTIONS [KATLA ERUPTIONS]

    800 -1[0]
    900 -2[2]
    1000-0[0]
    1100-2[0]
    1200-3[3]
    1300-3[1]
    1400-2[2]
    1500-5[3]
    1600-4[3]
    1700-5[2]
    1800-5[2]
    1900-2[1]]
    2000-1[0]
    TOTAL -35[19]

    http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/largeeruptions.cfm

    The analysis shows that there were fewer eruptions during the MWP and the current warm period and more eruptions during the LITTLE ICE AGE.[1500-1800 ]

    KATLA is the dominant eruption [50% of all eruptions ] and historically overdue .Erupts typically 2-3 times a century but no eruption since 1918 or for 92 years. However it was also quiet 934-1210 AD or during much of the last warm period [MWP]

    If Katla does erupt it is likely next year after current eruption of Eyjafjallajokul ends. The latter may continue on and then in a more subdued way and then active again type of cycle for a year. This was the pattern 1821-1823. I cannot comment on the ash issue or their models

  28. If the models are acceptible, which model predicted the eruption? But the models failed?
    What percent of the time should we go by computer models and simulation and what percent of the time do models say we should ignore the models?

  29. @ScientistForTruth (08:05:13) :

    I suggest you leave the job of aircraft safety with those who know what they are talking about!!!

  30. Pops (08:09:18) : “Barely a peep from the sheep.”

    I don’t think that contemptuous language likes this is going to help us to convince people of the strength of skeptic arguments. Most of us can be unaware and even gullible sometimes when it comes to questions outside of any expertise we may have. Slurring people who have different views from oneself is largely the domain of Real Climate and the like, lets keep it that way as it just alienates most people.

    In this instance, most people have barely been exposed to any evidence that some current flying bans may be unreasonable. The only such reports I’ve seen in the media suggesting this are quoting the airlines. Airlines, to say the least, have not always put passenger safety first when money is at stake so the general public would not be unwise to treat their views with some suspicion, even if they might happen to be right in this instance.

  31. Aristotle described motion as due to mechanical “impetus”: Released from archers’ bows, arrows fly straight, as aimed, until their impetus is exhausted, whereupon (says Aristotle) they cease moving forward and fall directly to the ground.

    No-one in his right mind could ever justify such nonsense by observation; yet over some 1,800 years, to Galileo’s time, Aristotle’s physics ruled Scholastic teachings unopposed. “Post-normal Science” is just such an atavistic phenomenon, an anti-empirical/observational approach akin to sad-sack literary critics’ embrace of Derrida’s “deconstruction”, which elevates PCBS academics over any vestige of creative imagination.

    Just so, staggeringly arrogant and malfeasant bureaucratic authorities actively oppose real-world constraints on power-hungry authority, which invariably acts only in the negative– never a constructive policy of monitoring activities within risk parameters, but always the playground-level approach of equating skinned knees as quadriplagic paralysis. Needless to say, reigning administrative sycophants have nothing of their own at stake… one smidgen of impact on their rent-seeking operations would instantly require ordering airlines to take flight regardless of contingent consequences.

    Big Government is the Enemy of the People. Foot on neck, airlines and passengers await the fatal chop.

  32. Just a minute. The Brits shut down Heathrow on the basis of a model from the Met Office?? Where is Piers Corbyn when you need him?

  33. As a rule of thumb, “Zero Tolerance” can usually be substituted by “stupid” without a loss of meaning

  34. “Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?”

    Since aircraft have been flying around volcanoes for decades, not to have threshhold levels (say, 100ug per cbm continuous; 1mg per cbm not exceeding one hour; 3 mg per cbm not exceeding 2 minutes etc) is unforgivable. This is therefore simply an ‘own goal’. It is negligence by the regulators (not only financial regulators guilty of this, then).

    “Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.”

    Give over – passengers want safety as well. The problem is conflated with the ‘facts uncertain’, since if it ‘safe enough for flying’, then that’s going to satisfy all parties.

    “Stakes High: Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.
    Decisions Urgent: Every day the immediate costs mount, and the long-term costs grow.”

    Only because of the paralysis due to the ‘facts uncertain’, which should never have been allowed to happen. This is a self-generated problem. There was, after all, an International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aircraft Safety, in Seattle in 1991 NEARLY 20 YEARS AGO, see here for Proceedings:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pKY_VLqMTgsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22volcanic+ash%22+aviation+safet&lr=&cd=6#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The paper by Przedpelski and Casadevall states:

    “The greatest threat to aircraft and engines is presented by “new” clouds (within hours of eruption) that contain large concentrations of ash particles…The ash particle size distribution in volcanic eruption clouds should be documented. In addition, engine and (or) combustor tests should be sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish threshold values for “safe” levels of ash concentration and the “safe” range of combustor temperature. This information, combined with updated dispersion and theoretical fallout models (and with improved cloud tracking) can establish when an ash cloud ceases to be a flight hazard. These efforts will enhance aviation safety and reduce air traffic delays resulting from volcanic activity.”

    Let’s face it, the regulatory authorities and the engine manufacturers have had decades to perform actually very simple and controllable experiments, and so enact the recommendations from the international symposium. I have no idea whether they did so – it appears that they focused on detection and avoidance rather than thresholds, and so we have the unacceptable situation we have today. The same type of thing occurred when London had an unexpected snowfall in 2009: not a single London bus ran that day. Strangely enough, this sort of invocation of the precautionary principle (if in doubt do nothing or shut everything down) is nothing more than a cop-out, and it is interesting to note that the more businesses are required to do ‘risk assessments’ the more the precautionary principle is employed, not the less. Risk assessment today seems to be more a process of risk identification and avoidance, giving more and more excuse to shut activities down rather than properly manage the risks.

    If the authorities have not actually performed the relevant experiments to determine what ash density thresholds are commensurate with acceptable aviation risk (say, similar to other risks) – experiments that CAN be done in the lab on multiple engines in controlled conditions – and ESPECAILLY after that International Symposium 19 years ago, then they have saddled the world with the problem we are facing today. The fact that ‘scientists’ seem to want to avoid doing properly conducted experiments with copious real world observations withrobust physics is a drift back to the Aristotelian method where dogma, theory and dialectic took the place a proper evaluation of the real world. This is where we have arrived at in climate science, to a large degree.

    I conclude that this is NOT a scenario suitable for Post Normal Science, but a complete fiasco that could have been avoided by the application of proper scientific method.

  35. @Jim

    Indeed – here’s the interesting thing. Most of the EU’s airspace has been closed down on the say so of the Met’s model. Which some in the EU commission are starting to question:

    “The science behind the model we are running at the moment is based on certain assumptions where we do not have clear scientific evidence. We don’t even know what density the cloud should be in order to affect jet … engines. We have a model that runs on mathematical projections.” – EU Commissoner Matthias Ruete

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7607216/Iceland-volcano-air-restrictions-are-excessive-says-European-Commission.html

  36. Short flights inconclusive, eh?

    http://www.flightradar24.com/ currently shows whatappears to be a test flight from Airbus Industrie (callsign F922),an A340-642, with the track first originating around Paris. The aircraft flew athigh latitude to the Germanborder and turned North until it was well over the sea and about level with the Danish border, whereup it did a U-Turn while losing altitude. The crossed the coast and headed towardsHamburg which it “buzzed” at less than 3000 m (10,000 ft), flying a loop around before turning towards Berlin. But before it was about half-way there, it turned NE, climbing gradually until it got near the coast before it again turned at the Polish border, still climbing.

    But it’s not landed in Berlin. (Flights have been taking off from there all day.) F922 is currently on a track (heading) of 282 — no, now 227 — at FL410.

    A B747 cargo flight left Amsterdam a while ago, now at FL290 on a track of 156.

    There’s been activity like that since dawn.

  37. JIm (08:18:41) :

    Over the weekend, I did see an article somewhere that mentioned “Met Office” and “computer models.”

    And I thought,

    Hmmm

    I saw a similar arcticle, unfortunately it’s now behind a subscription paywall. In it a spokesperson from Lufthansa said that all the aircraft groundings are solely based on computer simulations of the ash cloud from a volcanic ash center in Southern England, which passes its findings to the Met Office, which distributes it to the national authorities in Europe. Not a single weatherbaloon was sent up to actually measure if the ash is even there over Germany, he said.

    Now I thought also that this sounds familiar:

    – Far reaching and very expensive decisions based solely on computer models
    – No independent measurement of real world data
    – Ignoring real world data from test flights
    – Met Office involved

    Where have I heard that before?

  38. Tell the decision makers who are trying to duck the responsibility for the consequences of their decisions the following:

    1. You picked the software program
    2. You picked the people to run the program
    3. You picked the people who selected the data for the program to use
    4. You made the decision to rely on the computer output
    5. A computer can do only what it is told to do
    6. You are responsible for the consequences, not the computer

    Unfortunately, this is asking them to deal with reason, reality, and logic, Such things don’t seem to be the concern of the “decision” makers. They have the power and they will use it no matter what. That reality does not behave according to their decisions makes, in their opinion, reality wrong. The only thing that matters to them is that the rest of us have to beg “Mother may I?” before we can act.

    Question: why have we allowed the inmates to run the asylum?

    Question: why have we given them the tools to force their psychosis upon the rest of us?

    Question: why do we accept the situation without doing something about it?

  39. The response to the issue of airborne ash highlights the enormous loss of scientific/ engineering capability at the disposal of the UK government. At one time the resources of the National Gas Turbine Establishment and the Royal Aircraft Establishment would have been available, these institutions have been either closed or privatised. A comperehensive test and analysis program would have been initiated invoving extensive flight and ground test. In addition computer models would have been calibrated and boundary conditions determined by the use of REAL FLIGHT AND GROUND TEST MEASUREMENTS.

  40. This will be a grand lesson in who’s got the beef in European international politics.

    1. The traveling public have interests in getting where they want
    or have to go, getting there affordably, and getting there safely.

    2. The airlines have a quadruple interest in getting them there, getting them there safely, getting them there at a profit per seat, and maintaining their overall corporate revenue streams.

    3. The EU in conjunction with several members’ nation air
    administrations want no additional risks accepted by airline
    companies ro get their passengers from one place to another.
    They want to enforce their ability to restrict travel under the
    terms of the EU charter.

    4. The investors in airline companies, including those nations running their own airlines, want to stay in business while breaking even or turning a profit.

    5. The insurance companies covering airline companies for risks to passengers, or assets like planes and ground facilities, and/or
    unavoidable revenue or profit loss due to involuntary situations
    like being grounded for “dust”.

    6. The re-insurance companies that cover the insurers in case a
    whopping claim can’t be immediately covered by the regular
    insurance firms.

    7. The individual nations who have travelers that conduct their
    business on an international level and keep their respective
    national economies pumping.

    8. Investors and the investment community in general who hate
    falling profits, stressed insurers and re-insurers, impediments
    to economic expansion, and national/regional economies made
    sluggish by some unnecessary government impediment.

    I’m betting on No. 6, the re-insurers having the most influence.

    I doubt the EU will continue to have unfettered dominion in
    situations like the Icelandic eruptions in the future.

    It looks like both the politics and the science have yet to be
    decided.

  41. Link Between Solar Activity and the UK’s Cold Winters

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415080848.htm

    with the obligatory disclaimer that this is minor trend within the overall scheme of AGW. How about this jarring quote:
    “This year’s winter in the UK has been the 14th coldest in the last 160 years and yet the global average temperature for the same period has been the 5th highest. We have discovered that this kind of anomaly is significantly more common when solar activity is low.”

    There you have it. Only the UK is affected, you see. A special place indeed, it must be.

  42. Here is a report from the NASA DC8 encounter with volcanic ash in 2000. It details the insidious nature of the ash – no strong indication to the pilots/crew that they were in the plume, and no readily apparent damage after the flight, but after the engines were disassembled, damage to the engines was discovered, which would have reduced the engine lifetime to 100hrs. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/pdf/88751main_H-2511.pdf

    Definitely not fun stuff…

  43. Short flights inconclusive, eh?

    http://www.flightradar24.com/ currently shows whatappears to be a test flight from Airbus Industrie (callsign F922),an A340-642, with the track first originating around Paris. The aircraft flew athigh latitude to the Germanborder and turned North until it was well over the sea and about level with the Danish border, whereup it did a U-Turn while losing altitude. The crossed the coast and headed towardsHamburg which it “buzzed” at less than 3000 m (10,000 ft), flying a loop around before turning towards Berlin. But before it was about half-way there, it turned NE, climbing gradually until it got near the coast before it again turned at the Polish border, still climbing.

    But it’s not landed in Berlin. (Flights have been taking off from there all day.) F922 is currently on a track (heading) of 282 — no, now 201 — at FL410.

    A B747 cargo flight left Amsterdam a while ago, now at FL290 on a track of 156.

    There’s been activity like that since dawn.

  44. “No threshold” is a threshold, in this case the threshold is greater than zero! ASH_LEVEL > 0.

    I love double speak.

    Maybe the fuss over basing the decision on a “model” rather than something as strange as “measurement” will sink in with people finally.

  45. Hasn’t been much comment on Ravetz, per se. Is this proof of the validity of “Post Normal Science?” I do not see how. The “extended peer group” here would seem to be the travelers and airlines, wondering when it will be safe to fly again. That is not a question that depends on science. It is a question that depends on technology. Instead of looking to scientists for answers to the question, we should be looking to engineers. This is question more like whether it is safe to cross a bridge that has been stressed or damaged by an earthquake. I’ll ask an engineer the answer to that question, not a scientist.

    Sorry, Dr. Ravetz. No go.

  46. Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat?

    This question is lost in translation to me: How would this be a chance to cheat? Cheat what? Tweak the results instead of releasing the actual model output?

    I fail to see what this has to do with post-normal science. It seems to be a problem of models versus the real world and preliminary reports indicate the models are wrong.

    So what is the incentive to cheat here? Some scientist might change the data for the actual results in order to cover up the failure of the model?

  47. Jon (08:55:41) :

    “@ScientistForTruth (08:05:13) :

    I suggest you leave the job of aircraft safety with those who know what they are talking about!!!”

    Oh yes, I forgot – the tyranny of the experts.

  48. Dr Ravetz
    “…safety at all costs”

    That is your problem right there, Dr Ravetz.

    The warmist safetey elves simultaneously criticize the skeptics for demanding what they characterize as an unprecedented level of scientific certainty, all at the same time supporting drastic and draconian measures on the flimsiest of pretexts.

  49. Self justification
    Now they can write a computer model. input the number of flights multiplied by the millions of dollars of settlement claims for deaths and let us know they saved us 1.654 trillion dollars by reason of avoiding crashes from jet engine failures. Are there any unemployed anatomy retentive model programmers around?
    Who predicted this event? Whcih model? I have read that CO2 is the sole source of all inconvenient events.

  50. Here in Norway the flight ban has actually taken life. Even ambulance helicopters are grounded due to ash clouds, which means that people in rural areas dont get to hospital in time for treatment.

    Is it even a danger for helicopters to fly through a thin ash cloud??

  51. Surely this will give the Poley bears in Canadia grey hair.

    (I get credit for being the first to predict)

    My experiment is performed under controlled conditions. I use a white cat and poof a little ash from the fireplace on the cat.

  52. stevengoddard (08:25:20) :
    “The computer simulations are the best tool available.”

    You are plain wrong!.

    Observations are the best tool available!

    After eruption starts and you initially shout down the flights, then you soon start with “old style” observations.

    Some burocrats decided that after an eruption, all decisions came from a stupid model. No one thought to put some efforts also in measuring and observing an eventual ash cloud. A lot of money bonus in order to not take a decision!

  53. This is Stephen Schneider’s much vaunted Precautionary Principle on display in all of it’s ugly, twisted, dehumanizing, civilization-crushing glory. Hundreds of millions of dollars wasted each day as tens of thousands of people are left stranded at airports across Europe — and for what? As a “precaution” to protect them against a simulated danger that exists primarily in a computer generated fantasy world. Certainly there is a physical risk that exists in the real world as a result of the volcanic plume from Iceland; but the severity and extent of that risk has yet to be quantified on a continental-wide basis. It’s time to dump the post-normal pseudo-science of Schneider et al and get back to real science.

    For all those who say “better safe than sorry”, I say let the airlines run their tests and then give people the option to fly based on the results of those tests. Make it known to the flight crews and the passengers what the results are and what the possible risks are and then let them decide whether or not the uncertainties are acceptable to their own interests. These are adults. Let them make informed decisions and act based on their own tolerance of risk instead of relying on nanny-state bureaucrats with computer models to protect everyone from every possible hazard (whether real, imagined or simulated).

    If the airlines and passengers were free to make informed decisions based on the best available information that’s backed by real world, physical data, I’d bet that those planes would all go out full and, furthermore, that they’d all arrive safely at their destinations.

  54. On BBC World news tonight, the airline representatives are pleading with Met Office and Eurocontrol to rely less on their weather models and to use actual measurements, as the airlines are doing with their test flights.

    Mr Bisignani, of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said
    “The decision that Europe has made is with no risk assessment, no consultation, no co-ordination, no leadership,”

    I don’t know who is right, but it sounds just like Europe’s stance Climate Change.

  55. RajKapoor (08:20:17) :

    Is this for real? If so, it’s like something straight out of Michael Crichton’s ‘Climate of Fear’.

  56. RajKapoor (08:20:17) : UNBELIEVABLE! PRO-GW GEOENGINEERING:
    “The whole point was to help kill the airline industry and prove that global warming was in part due to aircraft emissions,” Schnellerflugzoeg said. “With aviation grounded, scientists would be able to gather evidence of a drop in mean temperatures and doctor the figures, showing perhaps as much as a 2 degrees centigrade drop.”

  57. It is not so much the danger, but rather the expense. Ash significantly reduces engine life. These are the most expensive engines on Earth. As for helicopters, not only is engine life reduced, but also that of the innumerable other moving parts.

  58. John Blake – try hitting a balloon with a tennis racket – that is a pretty good description of what it will do (my first year mechanics lecturer introduced us to that “Aristotelian Cannon”). Friction is considered the dominant factor in Aristotelian mechanics, whereas momentum dominates in Newtonian mechanics. Use heavy steel balls in air, and the Newtonian model is the best description. Use barely-denser-than-water projectiles underwater, and you will find that the Aristotelian model works better. It is all about understanding the assumptions and constraints of the model.

    If we lived in a world dominated by positive feedbacks, the concerns about a climate “tipping point” would be rational. We don’t appear to live in such a world, in fact, our world seems to be dominated by negative feedback – to the extent that the net climate effect of increasing CO2 concentrations appears to be unmeasurable.

  59. 1] Facts not Uncertain: the alleged cure to the alleged CO2AGW disease induces disasterous consequences as demonstrated by the very existence of the underdeveloped countries as well as by the effects of the biofuel programs. China and India have apparently made this calculation and have decided strongly against the CO2CAGW “precautions”, at the least. Russia apparently doesn’t believe anything about the alleged mechanism. CO2 has not been known or shown to be a significant cause of GW, ever. Even the alleged Heat in CO2AGW mechanism has been “lost”. Ipcc Post Normal Climate Science has eschewed the Scientific Method and has thus not done what the people of the World trusted it to be doing, including me. Etc., etc.

    2] Values not in Dispute: see above, unless you happen to be a PNS, Communist, World Government controllist or a useless idiot “save-the-worlder”, or perhaps some other transient beneficiary of this kind of truely enslaving, obviously deranged controllism, which has never worked towards the benefit of Humankind, ever.

    3] Stakes High: see both above.

    4] Decisions not Urgent: see all above. Panic is unwarranted and contravenes the use of both the Scientific Method and Rationality. Instead calm decisions based upon efficiency, rational use of resources, the rational development of new energy sources and the extention of Nuclear Energy use, as per France, and rational moves to address real pollution and other real environmental threats are indicated, critically involving the use of the Scientific Method!

    Dr. Ravetz, having eschewed the Scientific Method and Rationality as being relevant to the benefit of Humankind and the World, what’s next?

  60. Jimmy Haigh (09:37:13) : Your comment is awaiting moderation

    RajKapoor (08:20:17) :

    Dohh!!!!! Can’t believe I even thought it was serious even for a minute! Verloke Shomes indeed. I’ve been offshore for too long – I need a beer.

  61. Controlled by a computer program that cannot think for itself.
    No doubt, the computer projects a trend based upon the initial data, and since it receives little additional data, it therefore goes off into trend land.
    All too familiar.

  62. ScientistForTruth:

    Our ability to measure things far outweighs our ability to determine the significance of the measurement.

    I agree that we must know at what levels ash are actually significant, but not just to engines but to all flight system (especially sensors).

    As a follow-on from that, we must be able to survey and measure what’s in the airspace. Then feed that data into systems to provide a risk assessment with 3-dimensional “threat envelopes” as used in military operations available for flight planners on a “real-time” basis.

    In areas where there are lots of aircraft, real-time information can probably be gathered by the airliners themselves and fed into the assessment analysis to augment what would be routinely collected by ground-based monitoring and aerial surveys.

    Manufacturers of engines and aircraft can, through testing, observe the behaviour of exposure to ash, and recommend operating cycles to minimise damage if exposure is inevitable. Such procedures *might* be to deliberately shut down individual engines in recovered flight to thermally shock any fused deposits from turbine blades, combustion chambers and injectors.

    Ancient, bureaucratic planning processes must be overhauled. Flexibility to divert air traffic so that passengers and cargo can detour efficiently around an actual problem area, to save the passenger’s time, to try to get the cargo to destination as quickly as possible, even if a little late.

    e.g. My sister is “stuck” in Vancouver, trying to fly to Milan but her airline wants to take her via Frankfurt, which is closed. Oslo is open. So is Milan a lot of the time it appears. There are flights from Oslo to Milan. None direct from Vancouver to Oslo. Because of a bureaucracy.

    Little planning flexibility on the part of the airlines.

  63. pat:

    Watch your hyperbole.

    If aircraft were made from “innumerable other moving parts”, they couldn’t fly, mainly because they couldn’t ever be built. :-)

  64. So what if the eruption goes on for a year?

    What is the actual risk? Possibly some slight damage to the engine, or a danger of engine failure? Could short haul flights continue if they fly below a certain level? Could long haul flights continue if they can fly above a certain level? At some time there has to be a proper risk assesment. Zero tolerance is not really acceptable.

    I keep of thinking of Health and Safety officials. Initially they would work to minimise accidents, then to try and eliminate all possible acidents, and then to avoid theoretically possible accidents!

  65. stevengoddard (08:25:20) :
    Challenger O-Rings worked fine, until they didn’t. The computer simulations are the best tool available.>>

    Challenger O-Rings worked fine until they were used outside of their designed temperature range and against the recommendations (protests in fact) of the engineers who designed them. This is PNS in action. The pressure to launch the shuttle was urgent. The political stakes were high. The facts were in dispute. And so some moronic officials put the actual science aside in favour of the political answers that were convenient, and killed a bunch of astronaughts.

  66. ” * Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?
    * Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.
    * Stakes High: Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.
    * Decisions Urgent: Every day the immediate costs mount, and the long-term costs grow.”

    Once again this isn’t about science but is a decision making methodology.

  67. A BA 747 from Kuala Lumpur to Perth went through a cloud of volcanic ash from Java’s Galunggung volcano. There are several incidents where inflight loss of power has occured from volcanic clouds. Shortly after the BA incident, a SQ 747 returned to Singapore after losing two engines. In 1989 a KL 747 lost all four after Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupted. These all were clearly tied back to the volcanic ash and the havoc they play on engines, windscreens, and the airframe in general. Certainly different from the TWA incident, though just as tense for the crew.

  68. Just remember that models are one thing and one thing only: a guess. And not very good guesses for complex situations like the planet system.

  69. >>>Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?

    And not forgetting:

    Testing banned: a government agency too cowardly to allow proper testing to take place, so we still do not know the safe levels of contaminant that we can fly though safely. But we are going to fly anyway.

    And all in the name of Health and Safety !!!!!!

    .

  70. “Challenger O-Rings worked fine, until they didn’t. The computer simulations are the best tool available.”

    LOL!!!

    The O-rings failed several times and the reasons for failure were well-known. Had you taken the time to study the Challenger Accident, you’d have known this.

    http://www.mahal.org/articles/space/1995/12/the-space-shuttle-challenger-accident/page/1

    In fact, the Shuttles could have kept flying if the environmental parameters for the o-ring issues were mitigated by flying only when it was warm and when there was little wind shear!!!

    Here in the US, in Texas, Southwest Airlines is famous for routing its commuter flights around bad weather, which covers the state of Texas like acne on a teenager. They use radar, pilot reports, and dispatchers to make this work. Sometimes they fly at 10,000 feet or loop out over West Texas or into Louisiana to make it work.

    I’ll bet a few tweaks to radar could give the Europeans the data they need to route the flights properly. Or a few data flights run at night would give them the data they need during the day.

    Eurocontrol is overreacting and rather than come up with a testable model for sampling and deciding when and where to fly, they are just saying no. The real problem is that they just do not know – they could send flights into areas where there is ash because they have no data. None.

  71. stevengoddard (08:25:20) :

    Challenger O-Rings worked fine, until they didn’t. The computer simulations are the best tool available.

    Actually, all the NASA engineers at the time warned against launching in the sub-freezing weather, as the brittleness of the rings at those temps was well known. NASA went with the “it hasn’t happened yet, so it probably won’t happen” decision-making process, which also served them well with Columbia (ice impacts haven’t been a problem so far…).

  72. @Jimmy Haigh

    RajKapoor (08:20:17) :

    Is this for real? If so, it’s like something straight out of Michael Crichton’s ‘Climate of Fear’.

    Hmmm let’s look at some of the names here…

    Mr. Olaf Selfoss translates to Olaf Self-Ourselves which is true since Olafson is Olaf’s son
    Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg translates to “slow airplane”
    Professor David Sonnenbaum (the climate specialist) translates to “solar tree”

    etc…

  73. Sorry, the Americans won’t understand the context but i just have to say this…

    science post-normale : douze points
    circulation aérienne allemande : nul points

  74. Elementary my dear Watson, when in doubt, start the propeller and measure the dust, I would never trust a computer proggy with my live

    Facts Uncertain: only trust what you can see and feel
    Values in Dispute: only trust what you can see and feel
    Stakes High: only trust what you can see and feel
    Decisions Urgent: only trust what you can see and feel

  75. Schneller flug zoeg: faster flight Zoeg.
    Schneller flug zog: faster flight took
    Schneller flug zug: faster flight train

    Google’s translation, certainly not mine. Schnellerflugzoeg, in Google, links only to this page here at WUWT.

  76. Any information available on differences in ash properties between basaltic and andesitic and rhyolitic volcanos and their affect on aircraft engines? Volcanic glass with basaltic composition may affect aircraft differently to glass with more silicic compositions, more commonly associated with explosive eruptions-think Pinotubo-andesite/dacite. I would anticipate that basaltic glass would have a higher melting temperature for instance and may hence not adhere as readily to engine components as glasses with lower melting points. Perhaps an opportunity for someone to do a PhD.

  77. guys, don’t bite on this post “RajKapoor(08:20:17)”.
    my guess: some AGW guy trying to get sceptic community look bad for treating to some hoax as real. sit tight. just so you know, the real raj kapoor is a dead Movie actor from india

  78. It is much worse than we in UK plc thought. The jokers at the Met have not carried out any measurements of the concentration of ash?

    Well done Watts Up With That, again you are in there before the MSM

  79. Jon (08:06:53) :

    > Better safe than sorry!!!

    Absolutely! While we’re at it, lets evacuate all areas that might be impacted by a volcanic explosion (Maybe not Yellowstone, too big) or earthquake (especially New Madrid, the St. Louis area is so not ready). Hurricanes and tornadoes are easy – everyone gets out of the way of those, right?

    While those are USA examples, the Italian & Crete volcanoes, all tectonic plate boundaries, are geologic risks.. Ban smoking, driving at speeds lethal to pedestrians, electricity, and fire are all avoidable risks. Hospitals too – the death rate in hospitals is enormous!

    Better safe than sorry!

  80. This whole volcanic ash aviation article was posted by Dr. Ravetz in order to clarify a real world example of PNS. The idea is that this incident is supposed to meet all the criteria for PNS – facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent. Yet, when we deconstruct the volcanic ash incident in the framework of PNS, we find the problem the authorities are facing is a problem of their own making.

    Facts are uncertain because, despite 19 years since the volcanic ash symposium, no science was ever done to ascertain them. The facts in question, as already pointed out, are the concentrations of airbourne volcanic dust that constitute a risk and the dataset of concentrations against engine wear. By ignoring this vital research, we are guaranteeing that facts will remain uncertain for ever and are now forced into an artificial zero tolerance argument.

    So rather than being a methodology, PNS in this example turns out to be no more than an observation that “facts are uncertain” and we need to make a decision anyway. If we try and apply PNS to climate science, we don’t uncover any neglect to ascertain facts – quite the opposite. What we do find however, is that the assertions of “high stakes, values in dispute and decisions urgent,” are themselves in dispute. So PNS doesn’t apply even by its own definitions.

    Maybe an appropriate example will be found that exactly fits into the PNS format, but I suspect that PNS will continue to recede into the distance becoming more and more emphemeral and irrelevant, much like “Aristotlean” science.

  81. JD (09:57:38) :

    RajKapoor (08:20:17), is that chain of emails real or someone’s idea of a joke (hoax)?
    If real, at least chcking the sources, it desrves a new post. It would be more important than Climate Gate!

  82. chemman (10:00:29) :
    ” * Facts Uncertain: how thin must the dust be, for it to be safe enough for flying?
    * Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.
    * Stakes High: Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.
    * Decisions Urgent: Every day the immediate costs mount, and the long-term costs grow.”

    Once again this isn’t about science but is a decision making methodology.

    Give the man a cigar!

    Don’t forget to included fear of litigation in the equation. The lawyers will line up like vultures if an aviation accident can be blamed on the volcanic ash — particularly if it involves a spectacular crash with major loss of life.

  83. “Manufacturers of engines and aircraft can, through testing, observe the behaviour of exposure to ash, and recommend operating cycles to minimise damage if exposure is inevitable.”

    Manufacturers already do things like toss frozen chickens into test engines to simulate bird strikes. In one test at Pratt and Whitney the test tech left the ladder up against the engine, engine sucked the ladder in and spit it out the back, engine still ran.

    Any ‘foreign body’ injected into an engine is going to impact engine life. The question for airlines is the balance between the increased maintenance costs and the lost revenues of not flying.

    Flying thru a hail storm isn’t a good idea either. It happens.

    There are a couple of questions
    What level of ash is likely to cause an engine failure
    What level of additional maintenance cost an airline is willing to accept

    Then for twin engine aircraft, what are the acceptable landing options.
    I.E. A 747 which loses a single engine can continue indefinitely, a twin engine plane that loses a single engine needs to find a place to land.

    On transatlantic flights, the place to land is Iceland.

  84. real data doesn’t count! Models are “science”. Anyone who questions them will be punished.

  85. Computer models need to be constantly checked with reality, so one would hope that this is an excellent opportunity to improve the models. Would they allow a plane to fly when the model said it was ok, but direct measurements said not? I think the quote from the writers of yes minister applies. A bureaucracy has the engine of a mini and the breaks of a rolls royce. Everybody has the power to say no, but nobody has the power to say yes. I would have thought insurance would be an issue, but really if a computer model is shown to be inacapable of making a better prediction than the better of a linear extrapolation from known points and an experienced human it should be scrapped and not referred to again until it can. It would be interesting to know how they tested it to demonstrate it was fit for purpose. Considering the effort required to prove something as deterministic as a billing system is working as specified, one would hope that was the major part of the model development costs. You can’t come up with perfect test cases, but surely experienced model developpers can come up with a metric to measure its accuracy against known historic events. %ge of blocks with %ge ash within acceptable tolerance perhaps, ideally calibrated for what it is intended to be used for. Run each model against known previous events and reject a model which didn’t pass the agreed criteria. If the ability to predict new datasets did not improve, funding should be stopped, or at least a plausible explanation of why future funding would improve its reliability. How do they currently determine if it works as specified, never mind if it has any predictive capability?

  86. This whole mess is simply the application of that European invention the Precautionary Principle taken to some absurd extreme. Or to quote Will S. “Much To Do About Nothing”. (unless you happen to live in Iceland) It is not Post Normal or anything else except the orthodoxy of ignorance, all to often that is the Normal. That my friends has been with humanity since day one. It is simply just another example of a little knowledge being miss used and miss interpreted and therefore dangerous. That’s my cynical model of the world, my story and by god I’m sticking to it.

  87. The gross stupidity of the ban was that they also banned Piston Engined aircaft, you know those ones they show taking all that film of Volcanoes and flying people up to the top of them.

  88. ” Daniel H (10:16:43) :
    [...]
    Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg translates to “slow airplane””

    Sounds like mock german; “Schnelles Flugzeug” would be “Fast airplane”. But nobody i know is called Schnellesflugzeug, largely because german surnames were defined and fixed before the invention of fast airplanes (you might find someone called Stahlbock which means “steel bracket”).

  89. Those piston engined aircarft could have been fitted out to actually measure the density of the dust cloud ove rthe whole of Europe at all the different heights up to 25,000 ft at least.

  90. From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267257/Iceland-volcano-eruption-UK-flight-ban-LIFTED-tomorrow.html

    Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘This is a European embarrassment and it’s a European mess. It took five days to organise a conference call with the ministers of transport.’

    ‘Europeans are still using a system that’s based on a theoretical model, instead of taking a decision based on facts and risk assessment.’

    ‘This decision (to close airspace) has to be based on facts and supported by risk assessment. We need to replace this blanket approach with a practical approach.’

  91. enneagram (08:19:28) :

    Unless Ravetz actually makes some kind of transparent recommendations before the crisis is resolved, it would be difficult to know how or if PNS can make valid contribution to such issues. Perhaps he’ll make his considered recommendations here first!

    Personally I wouldn’t want to fly through any of that ash – or in a plane that had flown through it. But I might be persuaded to fly if a very transparent test were done for “my benefit”. I don’t see an alternative to test flights in the sensitive air space. Clear a runway, man it with the necessary emergency crews, then send a passenger jet aloft to circle in a given density of ash (measurement methods by cubic air volume as suggested above) until his engines either conk out or run short of fuel. Assuming that glider landings of the Chesley Sullenberger variety are not absurdly difficult, some pilots would probably agree to this for a price. Then do analyses of the jet engines, windscreens, etc. Ravetz’s PNS anecdote about the Hoof and Mouth Disease was largely a crisis of public confidence, and the tendency there to overreact. Not knowing the risk is the main problem.

    As blunt as the above method may sound, it would be one way of gaining crucial flight data with a passenger / freight airliner.

  92. Rob (10:01:09) :

    “A BA 747 from Kuala Lumpur to Perth went through a cloud of volcanic ash from Java’s Galunggung volcano. There are several incidents where inflight loss of power has occured from volcanic clouds. Shortly after the BA incident, a SQ 747 returned to Singapore after losing two engines. In 1989 a KL 747 lost all four after Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupted. These all were clearly tied back to the volcanic ash and the havoc they play on engines, windscreens, and the airframe in general. Certainly different from the TWA incident, though just as tense for the crew.”

    You are not going to be able to avoid incidents where an eruption takes place (starts) close to a flight path, i.e. a close event takes place with a plane in flight, and they are flying through the plume. Those cases you mentioned are quite different from the current situation where the planes are thousands of miles away and the ash very dispersed.

  93. Vanuata rocks.

    Rocking & rolling & rumbling with Gaia, er Gaua.

    “Last year it was just some explosions and some ash falling but at the moment the activity is becoming more interesting,” Korisa said.”

    Shake it.
    …-

    “Vanuatu prepares to evacuate 3,000 from rumbling volcano

    The Pacific nation of Vanuatu has made plans to evacuate nearly 3,000 villagers after a highly active volcano started spewing ash clouds, an official said on Monday.

    The picturesque Gaua volcano, which has erupted 13 times since 1963 and has been exploding and rumbling for several months, is under close watch after a marked rise in activity in recent days.”

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Vanuatu_prepares_to_evacuate_3000_from_rumbling_volcano_999.html

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi

  94. Burocrats at the highest level were choosen to be there because they acted upon and helped formulating the rules of the organisation . A real career-burocrat will steer away from any risk that is dangerous for his position . He will never be inclined to bring his organisation or human society forward and will cling to his personal interests and act upon the rules set in his organisation , so what is to be expected ? Yes , better be safe than sorry . The wielding of power to this type of people is a mayor error in the first place . The airline itself should be responsible for its behaviour and will take all prudence in the world to prevent a disaster as the penalty on a mistake from their side would be huge . What was the story with Panam in the past ?
    And now the europeans are accepting to be bullied by a couple of megalomaniac burocrats ? Who is responsible when an airline – engine is winding down faster than planned ? The operator or the manufacurer but not the burocrat . Something is very wrong in our european community and the smell of our own smokestack is disgusting towards heaven .

  95. So called post normal science is nothing but a renaming of the process that mankind has always used. In general, we do not completely understand most things happening around us. Science can answer many simplified questions if enough information is available, but the real world is generally not simple. For example we now know plate motion causes earthquakes and volcanoes, but we do not have enough details or understanding to predict them. We also know that an asteroid will likely hit the Earth and do a lot of damage at some time in the future. We just don’t have any details. Driving has a significant chance of resulting in an accident, but we drive anyway. The key to addressing all of these and other issues is to weigh risk the best we can, and consider a cost/benefit analysis. Calling this post normal science is just relabeling that. In the end we strive to maximize the understanding (science) to minimize the risk. Playing with words is of little added benefit.

  96. A world government would have prohibited flights all over the world. If the EU would not exist there would not have been a generalized flights ban, as every country would have used its own model software or its own idependent criteria.
    As always, communism does not work.

  97. Those airlines quite happily use the model predictions for their winds aloft forecasts for their flight plans. Similar model plots were shown on here for the Alaskan and Kamchatkan volcanoes over the last few years and their data used by the airlines, it’s a bit tougher when the ash cloud drifts over a major air traffic area such as western europe.

  98. Thanks everybody; I just thought I would have a bit of fun, provoking my critics about PNS. I suspect that the item about Prof. Schnellerflugzoeg (? -zeug) is a spoof – sorry to disappoint people. This could make a great case study in the problems of regulating risk: a non-zero threshold is not ‘safe’ or ‘acceptable’, but a zero threshold is nonsense (see Scientistfortruth). Also, what to when the relevant science has been neglected, and all we have are Models. And when damage from ash might not be obvious, so just sending some planes up and seeing if they stay up is not a real test. And of course, all the distortions from incompetent bureaucracies – but would we rather have no regulation at all? What a great forum WUWT is, invective and all!

  99. artwest

    “Airlines, to say the least, have not always put passenger safety first when money is at stake so the general public would not be unwise to treat their views with some suspicion, even if they might happen to be right in this instance.”

    Puh-lease. No airline would choose to compromise customer (not to mention pilot or aircraft) safety. The fact that the CEO of British Airways was along for the ride on a BA test flight demonstrates more than any other act that the airlines truly believe the risk is minimal or non-existent.

  100. Just for the record, in Germany on Friday it all got shut down after post-normal scientific warnings from british computer modelers. No test flights were undertaken in Germany. On Sunday, some ash particles were found in a bucket in a weather station at Wendelstein.
    On Monday late afternoon some researchers from Oberpfaffenhofen, from the DLR, undertook a flight with an instrumented plane. They don’t work on weekends.

    To me it looks like an exercise in maximizing uncertainty for travelers and companies. Well, and the more uncertain the situation is, the more we need PNS, right? Sort of like a post-normal chain reaction… Superpower Europe turned post-normal.

  101. This was so obviously a massive overreaction from the start I am surprised that there was no more criticism.

  102. We do not value lives over money.
    However, please remember that a healthy economy is a great way to save lives!

  103. >>No airline would choose to compromise customer (not to
    >>mention pilot or aircraft) safety.

    Pur-lease, to you too.

    Why do you think they call aviation ‘Tombstone Engineering’. — because nothing ever changes, until someone dies.

    Why do you think Concord was still flying after suffering many tyre blowouts and fuel tank penetrations (until one caught fire).

    Why do you think the older 737s are still flying with only one rudder actuator (PCU), despite this failure mode ending up with several aircraft doing barrel-rolls and diving into the ground. They just make the pilots fly a little faster now, as they say this stops the aircraft turning upside down.

    But we never compromise safety….

    .

  104. ScientistForTruth (09:04:31) :

    (….)
    The paper by Przedpelski and Casadevall states:
    “The greatest threat to aircraft and engines is presented by “new” clouds (within hours of eruption) that contain large concentrations of ash particles…The ash particle size distribution in volcanic eruption clouds should be documented. In addition, engine and (or) combustor tests should be sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish threshold values for “safe” levels of ash concentration and the “safe” range of combustor temperature. This information, combined with updated dispersion and theoretical fallout models (and with improved cloud tracking) can establish when an ash cloud ceases to be a flight hazard. These efforts will enhance aviation safety and reduce air traffic delays resulting from volcanic activity.”
    —————————
    Reply:
    You’d think if our weather service can tune Doppler radar to determine the concentration and form of water in storms, they’d be able to do the same with clouds of volcanic ash. With some practice, they might even be able to predict how much “Icelandic cloudy” piles up on your driveway tomorrow, or the amount that goes through the jets on your trans-Atlantic flight.

  105. Likely hoax.

    This guy’s name: Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg

    means “faster airplane” in German with a single letter letter change (change o to u in “zoeg”)

  106. If I were in charge, I would have used the models to tell me where to test.

    Also the safety/flight critical stuff in Europe is way different than it is here. I believe that the companies are held libel regardless of what the regulatory agency says.

  107. The BBC are being really weird about this issue – They are amazingly pro European Council (who have been exposed for what they are) and massively pro global warming.
    Been watching their weather reports and they are SO pathetic. This is one of the major weather events of our lifetime and they arent even mentioning it.

  108. And when damage from ash might not be obvious, so just sending some planes up and seeing if they stay up is not a real test.

    I would say, fly them until they don’t stay there. That is the only scientific test that will yield valid results that can be used to show real tolerances. This assumes they can get the planes back in a piece for analysis, and also know what density and type of material they flew through.

    To find out if planes tolerated mach speeds, they flew them faster until they failed.

    What test would you propose?

  109. ScientistForTruth (08:05:13) :

    A quick read through the ICAO document reveals what ICAO means by detectable: Visible to the eye or visible on a satellite picture.
    With volcanoes more or less active all the time, there is probably some traces of ash present most of the time. Invisible to the eye and the satellites.

  110. Here’s my post-normal analysis of the problem:

    Facts Uncertain: How best to hide the fact that models are wrong? Denial, cover-up or asserting the models are essentially correct, but need tweaking?

    Values in Dispute: Will saying it’s safe to fly get more funding than dire warnings of doom if the airlines presume their flights?

    Stakes High: If people figure out these models are wrong, how much sooner will most of them realize the climate models are also wrong? Mucho government funding is at risk.

    Decisions Urgent: The sooner we cover up the fact that we’re wrong, the less chance more people will figure it out. How do we defuse this ASAP?

  111. Jerome Ravetz (11:02:18) :

    (…)
    “…so just sending some planes up and seeing if they stay up is not a real test.”
    —————
    Reply:
    Sending up planes to test the ash is far more extensive than what you describe. And yet isn’t that the exact modus operandi of the Catlin expedition? I wonder why, with their belief in the theory of Global Warming, they’d venture into the Arctic in the springtime when they obviously expect ice-free conditions. Sounds like they were just sending some people out to see if they stay up.

  112. DirkH,

    The Metair Dimona, NERC Dornier, SAFIRE Falcon and ATR, are all flying, or will be in the next few days to investigate the ash extent and compostition. In the meantime, plenty of data has been gathered by ground-based lidar and sun-photometers. The problems are that the risks of flying through the ash layers are still uncertain – especially for higher-speed in-situ aircraft that would give the most relevant data.

  113. Bernd Felsche (09:49:38) :
    SI agree that we must know at what levels ash are actually significant, but not just to engines but to all flight system (especially sensors).

    A very good point. Airbus products (among others) rely heavily on sensors which must have unobstructed contact with the air — the sensors provide input to the computer doing the actual flying. How the computer interprets interference with pressure and temperature sensing determines what inputs it will send to the flight controls, and the pilots will become passengers until they can disengage the computer.

    Ask any A-320 pilot how exciting the cockpit can get when that happens.

  114. I don’t share other’s aversion to computer models, particularly when it comes to weather forecasting. Weather models are amazing in their accuracy for several days into the future.

    The computer you are reading this on was designed using a number of very large computer models.

  115. So, what is it about volcanoes that they might respond negatively to Solar Activity ?
    A CME hits yesterday/today, and the volcano quiets down.
    Coincidence due to lack of available water or the CME hit on Earth damped it down.
    Haven’t heard from Piers Corbyn in a while.
    The Icelandic volcano was in his latest update.

  116. “Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.
    Stakes High: Crippling costs to industry, versus big risks to aircraft and people.”

    I can’t see the reason for making two different points of what is essentially a single point: Safety (a concern both for passengers and regulators) VS. Operation (a concern for both passengers and industry).

    The equation would then be:

    X = F x (S/O – U)

    Where:

    X is regulative action – if X is bigger than 1, regulations will be imposed.

    F (facts) is a scientific factor – how high is the risk, according to the best available knowledge.

    S/O is the safety-over-operation factor in terms of probable “cost” (lives lost VS loss of income, jobs, convenience)

    U is the urgency factor – the growing cost of not making a decision (no action – lives may be lost VS. regulation – money and jobs will be lost). Significant about U is that cost to industry and passengers will tend to rise over time, while the threat to lives will remain constant – one could therefore presume that the pressure of U will increase over time.

    (Unless counterbalanced by f.ex. an increasing risk factor F, which IPCC seems to have understood).

    Another property of the equation is that the factor S/O will always tend to be overrated. One reason is precaution, another is responsibility. If a scientist is trusted with the lives of passengers on one hand – and a billion industry-dollars in the other, he will tend to safeguard lives, even if the scientific risk factor (F) is slim.

    Consequently, the equation of post normal science will tend to produce regulation even at a low risk, as the pressure to cease regulation mounts.

    And obviously there are other factors at play here, which have yet to be worked out – f.ex. the credibility of science, the expertise of the democratic populace, and scare-fatigue, to name a couple.

  117. Matt’s NASA post about the damage sustained to the turbine engines on the DC8 in 200 is instructive. Insidious is the watch word. The problem is: nobody knows how bad the ash is at any location at any time. Its like an icing forecast, its always given as “potential for icing” If you have appropriate di-icing equipment you can fly into certain known icing conditions. But you can’t do it in aircraft without di-icing equipment. Not legally; you might and you might get away with it, you might get away with it several times. But there are plenty of accidents out there to review at your leisure about what happens when you don’t get away with it. There isn’t any “anti-ash” equipment – and we don’t know exactly how bad the ash is or where it is. We do know that there is no good way to tell you are in it until it is potentially too late. In the risk-averse (and litigious) societies we live in today – we just can’t send airplanes full of passengers up into the ash and hope for the best.

  118. I would, seriously, propose the following:
    Send all private jet planes owned by the Climate Change community to fly through….just telling them there is a new gathering, a new climate jamboree, with lots of caviar, free loving companions, lengthy limos, etc,etc. waiting for them, say in Moscow for example. If they succeed in crossing the #**xx iceland volcanic ashes then it is OK.

  119. Leonard Weinstein (10:54:08) :

    ———-
    I agree. Each case needs to be considered on its own merits, and there is no need for labels as post-normal or normal or pre-normal anything to discuss these measures. If volcanic ash is known to pose a significant risk to aircraft, and you have a large cloud of the stuff moving around and area with extremely heavy traffic, it makes perfect sense to restrict flights until you can sort out things and evaluate the situation.

    Cases of plain insane behaviour promoted by scientists are older than the current CAGW nonsense. In the 40s and 50s, when the lobotomy craze swept the US and various other countries, thousands and thousands of people were lobotomized and left incapacitated (or dead) after the procedure, including the sister of one US president (JFK). That kind of butchery, given the primitive to non-existent knowledge about the brain by the practicioners, can only be described as barbaric. Some countries, as early as 1950, began banning lobotomy, saying the only thing it could ever accomplish was to transform some people with mental illnesses into clinical idiots. And yet the practice continued well into the 70s. And, amazingly, some of its cutting edge “researchers” got the Nobel Prize. It is now specifically banned in most places, including many US states. I wonder how close we came in the 70s to following the recommendations of those lunatics who were urging the release of massive amounts of stuff over the poles in order to save us from the coming ice age. Similar climate engineering proposals of all kinds keep popping up, always meant to do good. Some have already been put into action, such as the official inclusion of CO2 in the list of pollutants. Next in line is the proposal to bring carbon as a key player in the financial markets. I believe we are, as a species, totally insane.

    But the flight restrictions? I don’t know what’s the big deal so far. The decision is up to the aviation authorities, and one can understand those with the power to make those decisions want to be very, very sure it is safe to lift them before they do. Wouldn’t you?

  120. chris gray (09:08:08) :
    The response to the issue of airborne ash highlights the enormous loss of scientific/ engineering capability at the disposal of the UK government. At one time the resources of the National Gas Turbine Establishment and the Royal Aircraft Establishment would have been available, these institutions have been either closed or privatised. A comperehensive test and analysis program would have been initiated invoving extensive flight and ground test. In addition computer models would have been calibrated and boundary conditions determined by the use of REAL FLIGHT AND GROUND TEST MEASUREMENTS.

    You mean neither the airlines nor the engine manufacturers are capable of doing this testing and analysis? The manufacturers surely must test their engines before putting them into production. Or are you saying they only “model” their testing?

  121. I am not a “chemtrail conspiricist” but it is amazing how different the skys of London look since the ban on flights. Not a trail in the sky. I wonder what implact on local climate those trails have? Any info? [PS not conspiracy theories please, I mean is there any decent research on this],

  122. When you put all your eggs in one basket… etc., etc., etc.,..

    With 6.5 Billion ‘Carbon Units’ infesting the planet I can see where we might need a few more lawyers now than we did… ah, say 2000 years ago; but do we need as many as we currently have? I believe there is a direct correlation between AGW and the number of lawyers on planet Earth. One sure way to reduce CO2 is to recycle 99% of the lawyers on the planet (be they practicing or no) and make them CO2 Meter Readers at HazMat sites around the Globe.

  123. Apparently this whole non-flying european debacle is because of one single entity Met-office.

    Most of europe it seems depends on Met-office, and supposedly they don’t even know how much volcanic ash there is on otherwise eruption free days. The feeble attempts at measurements they did in this case were extrapolated for the whole of europe.

    Met-office could’ve helped keep losses at a minimum, but instead they helped everyone to loose maximum.

    Facts uncertain: If tossing computer model virgins, for sacrifice, into Katla have any discernible and real life observable effect on local climate variability.

    
Values in dispute: Virginity?

    
Stakes high: The complete depletion of island inhabitants at 5th of may 2031.

    
Decisions urgent: Lunch?

  124. Government is a parasite in science as it disables the ability of authentic science to be the genesis for creating sound public policies.

    Zero tolerance is one of the most irrational and overused ideas that goverment has adopted.

  125. Attn. also Dr. Ravetz.

    nandheeswaran jothi (10:33:53) :

    guys, don’t bite on this post “RajKapoor(08:20:17)”.
    my guess: some AGW guy trying to get sceptic community look bad for treating to some hoax as real. sit tight. just so you know, the real raj kapoor is a dead Movie actor from india.

    Seconded. Waaay too iffy, and easily turned to the opposite as a cynical ploy to either malign the “climate change lobby” or to demonstrate alleged sceptic irrationality in taking the bait.

    “All things are possible through Post Normal Science.” So, imo, just let the noble Journalists show their stuff, whatever that is.

    But, Dr. Ravetz, given some of the premises of the story, perhaps touching off big ash Volcanos as needed would also be highly recommended by Post Normal Scientists, too, as a “precaution” against CAGW ? – I think the Royal Society might have even mentioned something like this.

    Dr. Jerome Ravetz: And of course, all the distortions from incompetent bureaucracies – but would we rather have no regulation at all?

    False Choice. Undeveloped thought. PNS.

  126. Love RajKapoor’s story. Presumably the evil villain had built his secret layer within the volcano itself and only the timely intervention of James Bond saved the day.

    Sadly this resulted in a few explosions within the secret layer………

  127. Ralph (11:28:45) :

    “Why do you think the older 737s are still flying with only one rudder actuator (PCU), despite this failure mode ending up with several aircraft doing barrel-rolls and diving into the ground. They just make the pilots fly a little faster now, as they say this stops the aircraft turning upside down.”

    The 737 ? With 47 fatal flights out of 76 million flights flown? It’s roughly the same as getting killed by lightning. If that’s the worst example you have . . .

    I’m not a fan of big corporations, but I do recognize that airlines have every incentive to avoid fatalities.

  128. “Actually, all the NASA engineers at the time warned against launching in the sub-freezing weather, as the brittleness of the rings at those temps was well known.”

    Actually, no. Most of the engineering team is quite compartmentalized.

    And, no, again. You needed wind shear around Max-Q, too. They could still fly when cold, just had to make sure there was little wind shear that would create a bending moment on the SRB joints when under max stress due to the flight profile.

    And the o-rings were not brittle. They did not fall apart. They just were not plastic enough to deform into the void spaces.

    The o rings did their job within a given flight profile quite well.

    The much more common concern and MUCH bigger reason for not flying when below freezing was that ice from the launch pad could fall on the cooling tubes on the Shuttle Main Engines and damage them. This would have caused a launch pad disaster, endangering the public as well as killing the crew.

  129. What Are the Odds a single death may occur due to this issue?
    Flying through volcanic dust at 32,000 feet may lower a persons odds of dying in a plane crash due to aircraft failure to the same odds as being struck by lighting twice in the same year. It’s about the same odds as being killed by a terrorist, yet we spend a trillion dollars a year on trying to beat those odds. I’ll take my chances of not being killed by a terrorist or being killed by the volcanic ash. My odds are better of something not happening to me than being struck by lighting twice in the same year for crying out loud. We need to stop wasting so much money on this nonsense. Your odds of dying due to a complete and total economic collapse are much greater caused by the paranoid schizophrenics running the world.

    Knee-Jerk No Fly Ban Discredits Global Warming Alarmists

    http://www.infowars.com/knee-jerk-no-fly-ban-discredits-global-warming-alarmists/

  130. Today’s engines have a lot of sensors. A “flying into ash” profile should be easy to develop. Data from all these engines could be downloaded in real time to a central location for analysis and monitoring.

    As for sampling the air, a few dozen piston craft could do it. They can be fitted with air filters.

  131. Good grief.

    Mixing Governments into airline business.

    Can never bring anything but Post Normal Results.

  132. The point i this debate is that when you take the position that there is an No-Toleranze you actually take away the civilizations ability to adapt and develop!!

  133. Well, if you were a conspiracy theorist, you would say that some green zealot in Europe saw a great opportunity for grounding the airline industry and, thereby, weakening it greatly.

    One hopes the computer modellers are not in cahoots with them, as we all know the usefulness of computer models in climate change, don’t we??

  134. Anent the Geothermal company

    – I can’t find a company called “Icelandic Geothermal” per the emails in RajKapoor’s comment (but there is an “Icelandic Geothermal Company” company).

    – neither Gunnar Skoleskar nor Hanfluss Janesbaer seem to exist (the supposed reporters in the emailed articles byline).

    – “Professor David Sonnenbaum a climate specialist at the University of Berlin…” I think the University of Berlin is no longer the name of a German University. I think it’s called the Humboldt University of Berlin (I’m not sure about this though..) – oh yeah, and Sonnenbaum (Sun Tree) is not an unknown German surname. But for a climate specialist… it’s starting to get to be a bit much…

  135. This whole ‘post-normal’ thing has gone just a bit too far, do you not all think?

    Normally, in a ‘normal’ world we just fly around an erupting volcano. Common sense really.

    In a ‘post-normal’ world we suspend air traffic across a continent.

    Future dictated by computer models?

    No thanks!

  136. Austin (12:47:44)

    Better make that a Lazy Susan of air filters, and a team replacing/shaking out the clogged ones.

  137. Looks like ‘In-Flight Refueling’ capabilities are the only answer for commercial airlines. Short of every other volcano on the planet burping, they ought to be able to fly around anything Mother Nature throws up at them.

    If things get worse, also looks like we need to call out the Air Guard to get our folks back from Europe. Wonder how many American tourists have flown a MAC flight across the Atlantic? What a story to tell their grandchildren!

  138. On topic then off topic (a bit).

    @ Rich (10:35:59) :
    “Youtube video from Norwegian Met. Office maps/model.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-4TB47N3_Y (Apr 18)
    …. The Map Room

    http://www.mcwetboy.net/maproom/2010/04/eyjafjallajoeku_1.php

    Ash cloud forecasts at-
    http://mapped.at/volcano/

    Thanks, Rich, for posting these fascinating links, especially the excellent Map Room, from where I’m now trying to install a Google Earth animation of “Global Paleogeographic Views of Earth History – Late Precambrian to Recent”. Wonderful stuff!

  139. Michael (12:42:34) : quote:
    “And, no, again. You needed wind shear around Max-Q, too. They could still fly when cold, just had to make sure there was little wind shear that would create a bending moment on the SRB joints when under max stress due to the flight profile. ”

    Really? So no wind shear at max Q = no Challenger explosion? You assert that bending caused the SRB joints to fail ?

    Are you unaware of the video showing the black plumes of smoke coming from the area of an O-ring on the right SRB *while still on the launch pad* ?

    Are you unaware of video showing the flame emitting from the hole in the external tank for several seconds prior to max Q?

    And that this hole is exactly opposite the point on the SRB where the hot gasses were venting from the failed O-ring?

    And that the hole was likely cause by the cutting-torch effect of the hot SRB gases impinging on the external tank?

  140. I dated a Cloud Model once.

    True story, she looked cumulonimbus in her tight sweater, but she was really just cumulus.

    Thats the thing with models, never exactly what they seem, can’t bet the farm on them, well maybe if you are a bit Post Normal.

    But those guys never get models…

  141. We always say Orwell is rolling in his grave but in the case of the grounding of the airline industry over a non-threat, I think the person rolling with laughter in his grave is Orson Welles.

  142. Dr. Ravetz:
    To the heart of the matter. Too much safety results in an embarassing lack of production. Then, as if on cue, the pendulum swings in favor of “we don’t need anybody telling us our own business” and we then have ersatz safety.
    It’s not just an open invitation to scientists, but also to risk managers, engineers, panels, executives etc. to cheat. The envelope will be pushed, leapfrog style, until disaster strikes. Human nature will be what it has always been, and that is Normal.
    The misery of cheating requires it’s own bad company.
    So, no, I don’t really see this as an open invitation for scientist in particualr to cheat. The points you gave are common to any commercial enterprise. I do see it as a question of how close does science dare get to commercial interest without getting overly pressured and/or corrupted by it.

  143. By the way guys, yesterday while looking at our crystal clear ash free skies over London I spotted a satellite (yes, in space) with my naked eyes and watched it for an hour. This was during the daytime. If there was ash, it would have reflected the sunlight bouncing off the satellite back into space and I would have not seen it at all.

    I took a photo of it. It’s not as bright at I saw it with my eyes due to the lame camera lens…

    http://img709.imageshack.us/i/img0395w.jpg/

  144. 1980 – 3 helicopters are forced to return to their carrier after damage flying through a sandstorm at the beginning of the ill fated Iran hostage rescue attempt. 30 years later, and I find it impossible to believe that airlines, engine manufactures, and the FAA don’t have exact tolerance levels for anything that be in the atmosphere that could damage an engine. No need for new tests … just look it up.

    For example… just from one Google “turbine engine debris tolerance”

    Foreign Object Impact Design Criteria. Volume II FEB 1982
    Authors: Albert F. Storace; GENERAL ELECTRIC CO CINCINNATI OH AIRCRAFT ENGINE BUSINESS GROUP
    The full text of this report is not available and therefore is not for sale. This information is provided for reference purposes only. The program objective is to establish specific design criteria and provide the analytical design tools to assess and improve the foreign object damage tolerance of turbine engine fan and compressor blading. This program will aid in the design of more efficient damage-tolerant blading through the replacement of trial and error FOD test and evaluation practices with systematic transient structural analysis methods, test procedures and design criteria. A design system structure …

  145. OT

    This study helps put the scale of you into perspective. I wonder what their carbon footprint is with all their off gassing combined. The planet is much bigger than people are willing to believe. Screw “It’s a small World”. It’s a huge world after all.

    Census Of Marine Life Tries To Account For Thousands Of Microscopic Sea Creatures

    “What ocean microbes lack in size they make up for in numbers. Marine census researchers calculate there are a “nonillion” of them.

    Never heard of nonillion? Well, it’s a lot. It’s 1,000 times 1 billion, times 1 billion, times 1 billion.

    Of course no one can really envision a number like that, so the researchers turned to the popular comparison measure — the African elephant.

    A nonillion microbe cells, they say, is about the same weight as 240 billion African elephants — or the equivalent of 35 elephants for every person on Earth.

    And that’s just the microbes.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/19/census-of-marine-life-tri_n_542652.html

  146. It is interesting to see how some people here suddenly think the “precautionary principle” is perfectly OK when it is a diminishingly small risk of volcanic ash compared to a diminishingly small risk of global warming.

    Both are inappropriate applications of computer models flying in the face of real experience and both are being condoned by risk-adverse officials who think it is far better that people have the appreciable risk of dying as a result of the added chaos on the roads, than that they have any risk at all in flying.

    Basically this PC risk-adverse people have succeeded by their hysterical risk adversion in achieving what Hitler failed to do: to rid UK airspace of any UK based airplanes ….

  147. To all the ‘better safe than sorry people’, is there an actual example where a plane was brought down by volcanic ash and loss of life resulted?

  148. There is an article in the Telegraph today that reads almost like a parody of alarmist scientist. Earthquakes, eruptions, landslides, icequakes and tsunamies “could” be caused by “tiny environmental changes”

    It’s a prime example of the “if-then-might-then-could-then-may” kind of “research”.

    Some brief samples:

    “As the land ‘rebounds’ back up once the weight of the ice has been removed – which could be by as much as a kilometre in places such as Greenland and Antarctica – then if, in the worst case scenario, all the ice were to melt – it could trigger earthquakes.”

    “The increase in seismic activity could, in turn, cause underwater landslides that spark tsunamis.”

    “A potential additional risk is from ”ice-quakes” generated when the ice sheets break up, causing tsunamis which could threaten places such as New Zealand, Newfoundland in Canada and Chile.”

    “The reduction in the ice could also stimulate volcanic eruptions, according to the research.”

    ”One of the worries is that tiny environmental changes could have these effects.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7604188/Volcanic-ash-cloud-Global-warming-may-trigger-more-volcanoes.html

  149. stevengoddard (12:10:18) :
    I don’t share other’s aversion to computer models, particularly when it comes to weather forecasting. Weather models are amazing in their accuracy for several days into the future.

    The computer you are reading this on was designed using a number of very large computer models.

    Many things are built using models. But we’re comparing apples to oranges, aren’t we? A computer model used for manufacturing gets tested each time something comes off the assembly line.

    But in this case, the claims are being made the model overestimates danger from the ash. The real world is the test for the model and if the reports are accurate, then the model is wrong.

    Some of our local TV stations have dedicated weather channels on cable. Often the meteorologists spend will time discussing the various model outputs and also how they tweaked the results from multiple models to get their forecasts. They never seem to rely upon model output alone or a single weather model.

    Those models get tested daily (and tweaked regularly, I presume) but still give a divergent range of outcomes. Models have their limitations.

  150. Ken Finney (12:53:34) :

    “- neither Gunnar Skoleskar nor Hanfluss Janesbaer seem to exist (the supposed reporters in the emailed articles byline).”

    (Ole) Gunnar Skolsjaer (approximately) is a Norwegian who used to play for Manchester United football club. I can’t figure out who Hanfluss Janesbaer is.

  151. >>As for sampling the air, a few dozen piston craft could
    >>do it. They can be fitted with air filters.

    I think air-filters clogging would be a greater problem than turbine blades getting an ash layer. Besides, how many piston aircraft get up to 30,000 ft?

    .

  152. As am American, I am fed a steady diet of European Railway Superiority. Europe has trains EVERYWHERE! They go ANYWHERE! They can do ANYTHING! They are an unstoppable force of mass-transit awesomeness that silly wrong-thinking Americans are fools for ignoring!

    So why aren’t trains and alternate flight paths joining forces to rescue the world on this? Judging from that map, it seems like trans-Atlantic flight paths between the USA and Portugal / Spain / France are clear and unaffected. Why can’t people fly in/out from there, and harness the Awesome Power of Rail to get to the rest of the continent currently inaccessible by air?

    I would certainly imagine that this is happening. But I haven’t heard about it. All I see are poor stranded German Foreign Exchange Students living out the rest of their days in makeshift hobo-towns in various US international airport terminals.

    Hrm. Foreign Exchange Co-Ed Hobos, here indefinitely. If that isn’t a reason for an Ace o’ Spades HQ get-together, I don’t know what is.

  153. Allan M (12:31:06) :

    Zero tolerance?

    Is there ever zero ash in the atmosphere?

    The earth is constantly being bombarded by debris from space. If you were daft enough to have a zero tolerance to “ash” you just wouldn’t fly, wouldn’t drive, wouldn’t walk and certainly wouldn’t go into space.

    In terminator, the computers took over by redirecting nuclear weapons. Perhaps that scenario is far too obvious:- has the Met Office computer become sentient and become the “nanny super-being” deciding to save mankind from all risks?

  154. Ken Finney (12:26:05) :

    Bill – are you volunteering to fly the planes? :-)
    or at least have them fly over your house, so if the pilots have to bail out…

    Just as quickly as you can say Eyjafjallajökull ; – )

  155. Dr Ravetz,
    As an initial supporter turned hardened critic, may I observe that:

    1. You have been very opportunistic in using this widely publicized event to promote your PNS theory. Not one word you uttered however is of any value in resolving the matter. What value then your theory?
    2. Stakes high, decisions urgent. Forgive me, but from whence comes the urgency? Are there starving people somewhere in the world cut off from food supplies grounded by the ash? Is there an outbreak of some deadly disease for which the vaccine cannot be airlifted safely? Is there a city encircled by some army intent on ethnic cleansing from which we must evacuate the innocent and can’t? I see the economic impact and the inconvenience alongside your self serving promotion of your theory, but surely you jest that the urgency your PNS theory proposes is exemplified by this current matter.
    3. Might some scientists use this opportunity to “cheat” you ask? May I ask, what precisely does that question even mean? It has no more value than my asking you, if there is a thermometer in the forest but no one to read it, does the temperature change?

    As for your post later in this thread:

    “Also, what to (do) when the relevant science has been neglected, and all we have are Models”

    To which I advise, if the relevant science has been neglected, then we have no means to build a model. If the relevant science has been neglected, then the only answer is to do the science. Which is precisely what is being done, and it is science upone which decisions must be made. Had the models that predicted disaster instead predicted that no harm would be done, would you have considered skipping the science and sending the planes into the air? The answer you choose implies either that you are a fool or that the models in the absence of science are, in fact, of no value in your opinion.

    Your application of PNS in this case is hence falsified. I will have greater respect for you when you apply your theories in a practical manner and show that there was a beneficial outcome to the decision making process from doing so. Simply making observations for obervations sake proves nothing. At least in the case of a thermometer in the forest, we would know if the temperature changed.

  156. Al Gore’s Weather (AGW): It’s not anthropogenic, Al. It’s au naturel, Al.
    …-

    “Volcano emitting 150-300,000 tonnes of CO2 daily: experts(But the same experts say no big deal)

    Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano is emitting between 150,000 and 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, a figure placing it in the same emissions league as a small-to-medium European economy, experts said on Monday. Assuming the composition of gas to be the same as in an earlier eruption on an adjacent volcano, “the CO2 flux of Eyjafjoell would be 150,000 tonnes per day,” Colin Macpherson, an Earth scientist at Britain’s University of Durham, said in an email.

    Patrick Allard of the Paris Institute for Global Physics (IPGP) gave what he described as a “top-range” estimate of 300,000 tonnes per day.

    Both insisted that these were only approximate estimates.

    Extrapolated over a year, the emissions would place the volcano 47th to 75th in the world table of emitters on a country-by-country basis, according to a database at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which tracks environment and sustainable development.

    A 47th ranking would place it above Austria, Belarus, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, according to this list, which relates to 2005.

    Experts stressed that the volcano contributed just a tiny amount — less than a third of one percentage point — of global emissions of greenhouse gases.

    (Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com”

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2496283/posts

  157. And while you’re mulling over those tricky Icelandic umlauts…

    The last time the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, in the early 19th century, it polluted the Atlantic air for almost two years. If that happened again, or is happening again, we would be back to ships and maybe airships, and talking like the seafarers of old about the importance of prevailing winds.

    Iceland Reminds Us Nature Is Boss
    The island has a way of imposing itself on Europe.
    By Christopher Hitchens

    http://www.slate.com/id/2251273/

    My understanding is, the cost is $200,000,000 per day and counting to the airline industry.

  158. The ash particles are of different size/densities and tend to stratify in the atmosphere at several altitudes. The air-flows are turbulent which means some volumes have a high density of particulates, while adjacent areas can be almost completely clear.

    The models are reasonably good at forecasting the extent of the places where volcanic ash could be present, and places which will be ash free.

    Pilots are able to see dense areas of ash, but areas dense enough to damage a jet engine can be invisible.

    No need for post normal science in the decision process here. It’s a no brainer – inconvenience travellers or risk killing them!

  159. @ John Blake (08:59:11) :

    “Aristotle described motion as due to mechanical “impetus”: Released from archers’ bows, arrows fly straight, as aimed, until their impetus is exhausted, whereupon (says Aristotle) they cease moving forward and fall directly to the ground.

    No-one in his right mind could ever justify such nonsense by observation; yet over some 1,800 years, to Galileo’s time, Aristotle’s physics ruled Scholastic teachings unopposed. “Post-normal Science” is just such an atavistic phenomenon, an anti-empirical/observational approach akin to sad-sack literary critics’ embrace of Derrida’s “deconstruction”, which elevates PCBS academics over any vestige of creative imagination.”

    Scholasticism is derived from the Latin word scholasticus (Greek σχολαστικός), which means “that [which] belongs to the school,” and was a method of learning taught by the academics (scholastics, school people, or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. That’s 400 years, not 1,800 years! The impetus theory is due to Hipparchus or Hipparch (Greek Ἵππαρχος, Hipparkhos. He lived c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC, was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician of the Hellenistic period. Hipparchus was the founder of Trigonometry. Aristotle lived from 384 BC – 322 BC. The questioning of Aristotelian physics of motion began hundreds of years before Galileo.

    “No-one in his right mind could ever justify such nonsense by observation”; try reading some history before pontificating on it!

  160. “Values in Dispute: Regulators wanting safety at all costs, others needing to get flying now.”

    This is the same perversion of the precautionary principle as we have with climate change.

    Regulators should never want safety *at all costs* because *at all costs* is impractical. It pushes regulators into the realm of deciding what people can and can’t do with their time and money rather than merely setting some minimum or maximum level of acceptable behaviour/quality/etc and letting people get on with it.

    A true implementation of the precautionary principle *must* weigh the cost of doing nothing against the cost of doing too much but this is frequently forgotten by the loudest proponents of it. Any regulator that behaves in such an absolute way is not regulating an industry but running it. It has ceased protecting people from sharp practises and is instead engaging in social engineering, trying to shape consumer demand rather than simply being concerned with what is safe and what is not. It is also mistaken (as statism trying to appropriate free market thinking often is) that consumers are some magical bottomless pit of pennies who will accept whatever cost a regulator can impose upon them.

    We are seeing the same kind of thing with water supplies in the UK. The European Union has insisted on new and needlessly stringent water supply standards of cleanliness despite existing levels of cleanliness being adequate enough. It is adding billions of pounds to the bill the consumer has to pick up. The cost vastly outweighs any perceived benefit.

  161. BBC Radio 4 news just now – NATS announces a further ash cloud on the way from renewed eruption with more likely flight restrictions. Anyone with the right links know if this is actually the case?

  162. The well publicized incidents of 747s loosing all 4 engines because of volcanic dust reflect incidents in which the airplane flew directly through an emission plume. The crew was able to glide out of the plume and restart the engines in each case.
    The ash quantities encountered by the various military test flights in Finland and elsewhere have been small. Civil jetliners have large safety margins, ample to overcome the effects of diffuse airborne dust.
    That said, ash is a damaging foreign object for the aircraft and its engines. Current practice is for jetliners to go for 4-5 years between major overhauls, not possible if there is routine flight through airborne ash. So there will be an economic cost because of reduced equipment life. Additional safety inspections also seem likely.
    In light of the above and given the small size and relatively wide dispersal of the ash cloud in the current case, the Europe wide grounding of commercial aircraft seems a quite unnecessary overreaction. Unfortunately, as in the case of other government imposed mandates, the public has neither voice nor means for redress.

  163. Mt. Redoubt, just across the bay from Anchorage, Alaska, erupted in 1989. Days later and nearly 1,500 miles away, a Texas flight lost all 4 engines in mid-flight due to the ash. Fortunately, the flight was able to restart and landed safely.

    As far as I can tell, we have never lost a flight to ash but many around the world have come very close.

    200 million/day in lost Air Industry revenue for 5 days = (little finger in the corner of his mouth) “A Billion Dollars”.

    There’s something very normal about panic these days but its better to be safe then sorry over countries that burden the Air Industry with all resulting claims.

  164. I would say, fly them until they don’t stay there. That is the only scientific test that will yield valid results that can be used to show real tolerances. This assumes they can get the planes back in a piece for analysis, and also know what density and type of material they flew through.

    A perfect mission for an telemetry instrumented UAV. An umanned, flying probe. Anybody have any?

  165. In the West, we live in a modern ‘climate’ of fear and doom. It sure looks like a power grab by politician’s so that they can regulate everything – even the air we breathe. If it all sounds like a fundamentalist priest’s sermon about a “fiery hell” then do not be surprised because the aim of our politicians is the same: control through fear.

    The tremendous consolidation of power in Western government is making new winners and new losers – the creation of new giants and the death of many incumbents.

    WMD – helps defense contractors (who lobby heavily)
    HN51 – helps medical suppliers (who lobby heavily)
    AGW – help GE/Soros/Gsachs etc (who lobby heavily)
    Bailouts of AIG – principally saved GSachs and made them even richer. (the revolving door between highly paid bankers (who lobby) and government)
    911 – scared everyone (and gave Western Governments tremendous new powers to detain and place people under surveillance and infringe on civil liberties)

    The display of power by the European’s over air travel (mostly business) is a clear warning to every commercial independent viable private entity out there – Watch out! We have incredible power! Make sure you stay on our good side – keep up the entertainment of politician’s and keep the political donations from the lobbyists coming in!

    The new western world gives the power to Alan Greenspan to create bubbles. It gives the power to governments to bail out same when he and the lack of government regulation causes a severe crash. Western citizens are working for about 9 months a year just to pay taxes , a fair portion of which goes to pay off our debts. Little by little western governments have more and more and more control.

    Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

    It is pretty clear that we sheeple are being manipulated for profit and power.

  166. Never heard of nonillion?

    Enneagram could tell you all about it. But (s)he’s dressing to the nines for some kind of party.

  167. I can’t understand what Ravetz is on about – why would scientists want to cheat? This seems like a non sequitur, and the quickness of Ravetz’ reaction to this in terms of his expertise raises an eyebrow as well.

    Mind you the Met Office computer model is another matter. Most of us in the physical sciences would have sent a balloon up with the necessary kit to take an air sample and actually measure what’s up there (ahem).

    Or is this procedure too hazardous in terms of OSH guidelines and the Precautionary Principle?

    But no, they rely instead on a computer model designed after the Chernobyl disaster to tell the airlines when it’s safe to fly again.

    Since the computer modelling would have to be based on atmosphere circulation dynamics and a sound understanding of volcanic activity, we are then left with the problem that as the Met Office has no skill in either of these two areas, (there is always hope for improvement) , then we accept their pronouncement not on the weight of evidence, but on the greater weight of authority, much as a primitive tribe would accept the authority of their chicken entrail reading witchdoctor.

    No wonder there is such a persistent belief in AGW among the elite – for it too is the result of modelling.

    Makes me suspect the elite have addled brains which are now replaced centrally located super-computers.

    It’s sort of like a Quasi God situation, don’t think for yourselves, instead rely on the government super computer instead.

  168. reason (13:47:08) :

    As am American, I am fed a steady diet of European Railway Superiority. Europe has trains EVERYWHERE! They go ANYWHERE! They can do ANYTHING! They are an unstoppable force of mass-transit awesomeness that silly wrong-thinking Americans are fools for ignoring!

    So why aren’t trains and alternate flight paths joining forces to rescue the world on this? Judging from that map, it seems like trans-Atlantic flight paths between the USA and Portugal / Spain / France are clear and unaffected. Why can’t people fly in/out from there, and harness the Awesome Power of Rail to get to the rest of the continent currently inaccessible by air?

    I would certainly imagine that this is happening. But I haven’t heard about it.
    ===============

    You may not have heard about it, but it is indeed happening. Buses, trains and boats out of Spain have been chuck full for the last couple of days. In ships to Great Britain, they are even using the seats of the on board cinema for people to sleep overnight. However, the train option is complicated by the fact that French railway workers are on an ill-timed strike. See for example.

    http://www.elpais.com/articulo/cataluna/busca/trenes/autobuses/elpepiespcat/20100419elpcat_7/Tes

  169. @ reason (13:47:08)

    “So why aren’t trains and alternate flight paths joining forces to rescue the world on this? ”

    That now seems to be getting a bit under way, under pressure from some rational critics, but the immediate impression is of a massive political organisation (the EU) mesmerised and paralysed by and in thrall to the dire predictions of its soothsayers – and by its own equally paralysing regulations. It has taken 5 (count ‘em), 5 days for European transport ministers to have a videoconference. Not a surprise in Britain, where the major political focus is on the election, not on taking care of business.

  170. Ken Finney (12:53:34) :

    Anent the Geothermal company

    – I can’t find a company called “Icelandic Geothermal” per the emails in RajKapoor’s comment (but there is an “Icelandic Geothermal Company” company).

    – neither Gunnar Skoleskar nor Hanfluss Janesbaer seem to exist (the supposed reporters in the emailed articles byline).

    – “Professor David Sonnenbaum a climate specialist at the University of Berlin…” I think the University of Berlin is no longer the name of a German University. I think it’s called the Humboldt University of Berlin (I’m not sure about this though..) – oh yeah, and Sonnenbaum (Sun Tree) is not an unknown German surname. But for a climate specialist… it’s starting to get to be a bit much…

    my BS detector went off on this:

    Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg, in charge of the CACE investigation

    ‘schneller flugzeug’ is German for ‘fast aircraft’. ‘flugzoeg’ adds some Dutch accent. :)

    there’s also no such organization as CACE.

    anyway, the story is nice.

  171. ANYONE been looking at the IR satellite national and global scans?

    Unless I’m “kooky”, I’m rather sure the “signature” of the “fine ash” is all OVER these scans.

    Northern Hemisphere has completely “high altitude” dispersed about 5% of the ash.

    This WILL cause cooling…within weeks.

    Cold summer, bad winter.

    Ugly.

    Hopefully make a mockery of AWG.

    Max

  172. PS: My number on 5% is based on previous readings about the “stokes law of settling” and the % of the ash which takes more than a month to come down.

    NOT on something I’m getting from the Sat. data.

    Sorry if there is any confusion on that matter.

  173. In 2008 around 35,000 people died in road accidents in the EU

    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/pdf/statistics/2008_transport_mode.pdf

    That’s around 100 deaths per day in tragic accidents. Better safe than sorry, we should ban all cars right ? …. no you get in your car, you take the risk.

    Better safe than sorry is for pathetic socialists.

    I bet that 95% of people would have happily signed a disclaimer and boarded the planes and why shouldn’t they take the risk on themselves ?

    I bet the airlines would have rather risked 1 or 2 accidents than been automatically out a quick billion.

    The choice should be the people’s to make, not some snivelling bureaucrat hiding behind a computer model and fat Government paycheck.

    No one has the right to tell people what to do. No one has the right to ban all air traffic over Europe. Charge everyone an extra $20 to cover the 1 in 50,000 chance of a crash. Then Govt. doesn’t have to pay for clean up….. but leave it open to the people to decide.

    There should have been open riots over this issue, there is no excuse for this kind of Govt. heavy handedness, its none of their business frankly.

  174. The point i this debate is that when you take the position that there is an No-Toleranze you actually take away the civilizations ability to adapt and develop!! Australia is now such a country (Queensland only) that’s why I dont live there anymore LOL.

  175. You don’t need to know the science, you just have to follow the current logic:

    Volcano erupts
    Ash goes in the air
    Planes will crash
    Ban planes
    Volcano erupts some more
    More ash in the air
    “EU experts” say situation is improving
    Unban planes

    Most science today appears to be what 40 years ago we called “magic”. No rules, no logic, no experiments, no empirical data. I’m reminded of those cardboard masks that used to be printed on the side of cereal packets, such that children could instantly be transformed into a wolf, or Batman, or the Lone Ranger. I must have missed the “scientist” one.

  176. Mike Haseler (13:37:55) : wrote

    “It is interesting to see how some people here suddenly think the “precautionary principle” is perfectly OK when it is a diminishingly small risk of volcanic ash compared to a diminishingly small risk of global warming.

    Both are inappropriate applications of computer models flying in the face of real experience and both are being condoned by risk-adverse officials who think it is far better that people have the appreciable risk of dying as a result of the added chaos on the roads, than that they have any risk at all in flying.

    Basically this PC risk-adverse people have succeeded by their hysterical risk adversion in achieving what Hitler failed to do: to rid UK airspace of any UK based airplanes ….”

    I have another more accurate description of the so called “precautionary principle”. “The politics of paranoid schizophrenia and main stream media propaganda”.

  177. “reason (13:47:08) :

    As am American, I am fed a steady diet of European Railway Superiority. Europe has trains EVERYWHERE! They go ANYWHERE! They can do ANYTHING! They are an unstoppable force of mass-transit awesomeness that silly wrong-thinking Americans are fools for ignoring!”

    My colleague just bought an Opel because he was fed up with the ICE’s failing on the way from Berlin to Hamburg… they had a quite high failure rate this winter.

    “[...]
    All I see are poor stranded German Foreign Exchange Students living out the rest of their days in makeshift hobo-towns in various US international airport terminals.”

    Great picture, thank you. If they are German, they probably already have installed some solar panels on their tents to be energy-independent in an ecological way… and are lecturing everybody else…

  178. Tenuc “No need for post normal science in the decision process here. It’s a no brainer – inconvenience travellers or risk killing them!”

    At an average death rate of 1 in 40,000 per day there have already been a dozen or so deaths abroad because of the precautionary principle.

    This is just an absurd attitude to risk. Any kind of travelling brings a risk of death and only a complete idiot would try to say: “any risk is too high” because that totally ignores the fact that if people can’t fly they are forced to go by far more risky means of travel.

    Can we please stop the ridiculous global warmist type nonsense that people won’t die from NOT BEING ABLE TO FLY

  179. And to highlight the ridiculousness of this “no risk is small enough”, we have soldiers coming back from mine clearing in Afganistan where there is a real risk of death being prevented from seeing their families (some for the last time as they go back and will die) because of a diminishingly small risk of a little bit of dust.

    We have people who are running out of prescription medicines abroad … who may well die because they are being prevented coming home because of a diminishingly small risk of a little bit of dust.

    We have a UK economy which is going to rack and ruin and will not be able to afford health care treatment which will lead to real people dying because some official and the Met Office thought it was better to destroy the UK economy than risk people flying through a diminishingly small risk of a little bit of dust.

  180. “Francisco (13:43:35) :
    [...]
    ”One of the worries is that tiny environmental changes could have these effects.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7604188/Volcanic-ash-cloud-Global-warming-may-trigger-more-volcanoes.html

    You know, first i thought, it’s a postmenstrual scientist but then i realized it’s a he. Okay, i thought, maybe alarmism is a kind of mental decay like Alzheimer’s and this is a grave case.

    But actually i think it’s most likely they just gave this McGuire guy a suitcase full of dough and said “See what you can do for us” and this is what he came up with.

    But a funny flavor of alarmism nevertheless, one for the exposition…

  181. Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (13:24:15) :

    By the way guys, yesterday while looking at our crystal clear ash free skies over London I spotted a satellite (yes, in space) with my naked eyes and watched it for an hour. This was during the daytime. If there was ash, it would have reflected the sunlight bouncing off the satellite back into space and I would have not seen it at all.

    Oh come on. We already had one lame hoax post in this thread.

    If it were a satellite in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) it would be above the horizon for only 15 minutes or so. If it were in geosynchronous orbit it would be way too faint to see during the day (people can take time exposures of geosynch satellites – no tracking required!)

    I’ve seen Venus during the day (surprisingly difficult), and I think I heard that some people are looking for Iridium flares during the day (easy if you are looking in the right direction, I suspect). I don’t think there is an Earth orbit that would leave a satellite visible for an hour over London. Maybe something extremely eccentric, but most of those are too high to be readily visible at night.

  182. Dave Andrews (13:42:09) :
    To all the ‘better safe than sorry people’, is there an actual example where a plane was brought down by volcanic ash and loss of life resulted?>>

    Good point and not that I know of, but birds getting sucked into turbines yes, and the ill fated mission to rescue the hostages in Iran failed in part because the sand was too fine for the air filters in use and failed the engines. That said, a helicopter landing in fine sands likely injests a whole lot more particulate matter than what we are talking about (density wise) in an ash cloud.

    That said, I would think that long term wear would be the greater issue than short term catastrophic failure. In a piston engine, the ash particles, which I assume to be abrasive, would become imbedded in the lead/tin babbit of the journal bearings, in turn cause scoring of the crank shaft. This would result in accelerated wear, but unlikely to cause a catastrophic failure and certainly would be picked up by the oil analysis that would be part of any decent preventive maintenance program.

    What would happen in a jet engine as opposed to a piston engine? I don’t know, I never had the opportunity to take apart a jet engine to see how it works. I tried once, I really did, but the guy who owned the jet got very upset.

  183. I’m uncertain what “the Local” is but they are way off-base with this statemant.

    ““The flight ban, which is completely based on computer calculations, is causing economic damage in the billions. This is why, for the future, we demand that dependable measurements must be available before a flight ban is imposed.””

    To be fair, the Ash Detection Tool used by the Met Office isn’t NAME (a computer model). Its a “collection of polar orbiter and geostationary satellites” that use infrared sensors to distinguish volcanic ash from water in the atmosphere.

    Met Office; Volcanic Ash detection Satellites
    source: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/aviation/vaac/ash_detection.html

    However, if they can so clearly define the ash clouds and their likely trajectory…

  184. (“I can resist anything but temptation”)

    Was HadCRU involved with writing the computer programs that forcast unflyable conditions?

  185. According to the model a tendril of ash has backed across the Atlantic and is now over my house in New Hampshire.

    Does that mean I can skip work?

  186. maz2
    Patrick Allard of the Paris Institute for Global Physics (IPGP) gave what he described as a “top-range” estimate of 300,000 tonnes per day.>>

    So exactly how does cap and trade fit in now? It is Denmark’s volcano, but they have exported all the CO2 and ash to Europe. So who pays the taxes? I would think Europe. They’ve got all the CO2 now and the carbon credits they get for grounding the airplanes won’t come close to covering it. So I think Europe will have to pay up and transfer the money to Denmark, so that Denmark can reduce their industrial output by enough to off set the volcano and still maintain their standard of living.

    Hmmm…. can I have a volcano too?

  187. Pops (08:09:18)

    I get the gist that for the thinking man, the mass of hummanity may seem glassy eyed and sheep like, however, they’re not.

    If the Web has taught me one thing, in spite of the efforts of Media, Corporations and Governments, Men remain stubbornly distrusting of authorities.

    There are, as far as I can see, no Sheeple. Humans are not flocks of birds, wheeling on a turn because the lead duck gets skittish. Thats what the Authorities would love to be true, and they don’t stop trying to make it so.

    Whatever the E.U’s bloated desk jockeys intend, real or imagined, by shutting down air travel the results will be thousands of peoples, choosing to conduct their business in some OTHER way.

    As fast as they make rules, we break em’, and may it always be so.

  188. This is great. Puts the focus of many angry people on the Met and their models.

    And it helps contain the swine flu pandemic so the WHO and their Big Pharma partners can finally get the credit they deserve for saving us from that catastrophe.

  189. Since Dr Ravetz’s PNS keeps coming up on this site, some may be interested that there are alternative efforts at understanding these issues that have to do with needing to make decisions with less than complete knowledge.

    Herbert A Simon wrote an excellent little book called “Sciences of the Artificial”, which I have always thought one of the most useful books I have read. in the book he uses a term “satisficing” as the process for most real world decision-making—–as opposed to “optimizing” or “maximizing”. Business firms do not maximize profits—to do so requires ignoring too many competing issues , including limited knowledge and decision-making resources. They know that in seeking that last dollar of profit, they may put their enterprise at risk, or suffer from choosing profits know over long term profis. They seek what is “good enough” or satisfactory, given what they know under current market conditions—-they “satisfice” profit-making.

    When bureaucrats make a “zero tolerance” policy, they make the error of failing to satisfice. They optimize on one dimension, avoiding all damage to aircraft, in the volcanic ash case, but at a hugely disproportionate cost for that last aircraft saved. They pursue optimizing in one dimension while ignoring costs in other dimensions. Environmental bureaucrats tend to make such decisions, hence to common man’s reaction that their decisions are somehow stupid.

    “Satisficing” is what all scientists must do in good experimental design. Lab time is expensive. Subjects are expensive. Papers must get published. How many times must an experiment be run, how many subjects used, etc, to get a result that is statistically robust (to use a term much maligned here)? Good scientists, with integrity, juggle these variables and make a compromising, satisficing decision.

    Dr Ravetz’s approach is so Marxist-sounding, if not derived…..so close to the epistemologic issues of Truth and Deconstruction of Truths as serving a political or cultural power structure. Dr. Simon’s approach is far more satisfying to those who believe there is a real world out there and use the scientific method, classically understood, to gain knowledge of it.

    KW

  190. John Galt (14:12:22) – Just checked that link. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

    They should have a video contest for sheep on why mutton is so good.

  191. From the comments here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/7608299/Volcanic-ash-cloud-of-uncertainty.html

    “Mr P on April 19, 2010 at 11:20 PM
    You just don’t whether to laugh or cry about this one do you?
    It has a distinct smell of the hysterical panic that was Bird Flu, Swine Flu, SARS etc….
    What sort of idiot didn’t actually think about sending a plane or two up to test the hypothesis coming from the VAAC? It just beggars belief really.
    Will someone carry the can for this blunder? I doubt, it’s Britain and it probably wasn’t their fault anyway. No one’s ever wrong in the civil service!”

    Maybe, but it looks like the lawyers are tooling up for a few hefty fees:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/7608722/Volcanic-ash-cloud-Met-Office-blamed-for-unnecessary-six-day-closure.html

    “‘Jeff Zindani, of Forum Law solicitors, said: “Legal analysis suggests that there may be a raft of class actions brought by airlines and companies that are dependent on air travel to move their goods. “‘

  192. Sure we should play safe….But the problem, as implied by “post-normal science”, is that there is just no way to play safe. Each day of closed air space cost a lot of money, and each day more than the one before, due to indirect costs. On the other hand, each day the ashes should be less concentrated than before. There is a time where it is just not reasonable to “play it safe”, ie choose to avoid a smaller and smaller risk at an increasing cost. My feeling, as a Belgian guy, is that this time has passed already, fret flight (goods, not people) should have resumed a day ago. It would have relieved a little of the cost, and provided real-life testing on routes before passenger flight takes the risk.

    Euro governements know it, but they are incredibly affraid of any popular backlash and are more and more paralized by the precautionary principle. Now they reluctantly open the airspace, because they have been kicked in the nuts by the big airplanes companies, who have reminded them that money does not grow on trees. They are forced to move, they simply can not push this much longer before causing even more economic damage (when the situation is bad already). Now the inevitable resume has started, but it will be a little bit slow because every actor will try its best to avoid any responsability, both in case of plane crash or market crash. Not easy, but it is always kind of “fun” to watch highly-payed cowards dance this complex dance in front of the medias (that are themselves in the comfortable position: the critic, ready to point anything that turned bad and throw them to the populace: an excellent way to earn a lot of money without any risk – they are even more despisable than the dancing cowards….)

  193. I just read over all the comments and I’m more then surprised that no one questioned the accuracy of an excerpt from a rag called “the Local”. When was the last time any news agency checked their facts before publishing a truckload of canned alarmist drivels.

    Admittedly, they don’t have the sexiest website but does everyone completely distrust the Met Office?

  194. Why don’t the geniuses sequester the ash out of the air and problem solved. After all, they think they can sequester co2, something that can’t be seen out of the air. They can see the ash. Heck, it should be easier for them than co2.

    ;-)

  195. A computer wrong? Computers are smarter than people. How can it be wrong?

    ;-)

  196. @ davidmhoffer (13:59:53) :

    While it isn’t for me suppose I could or should defend Dr Ravetz, and I don’t wish to engage in a negative manner, I can’t help but pick out a couple of things in your last post.

    “1. You have been very opportunistic in using this widely publicized event to promote your PNS theory. Not one word you uttered however is of any value in resolving the matter. What value then your theory?”

    It’s probably just me, but I believe Dr Ravetz’ PNS theory is offering a process rather than a solution. Or a way to get there, not a road map to the solution to every problem.

    “2. Stakes high, decisions urgent. Forgive me, but from whence comes the urgency? Are there starving people somewhere in the world cut off from food supplies grounded by the ash? Is there an outbreak of some deadly disease for which the vaccine cannot be airlifted safely? Is there a city encircled by some army intent on ethnic cleansing from which we must evacuate the innocent and can’t? I see the economic impact and the inconvenience alongside your self serving promotion of your theory, but surely you jest that the urgency your PNS theory proposes is exemplified by this current matter.”

    If you see the economic impact, then you’d see the that means less money for many things. Foreign aide is the first that comes to mind. Like it or not(to quote a world leader) money drives this world. Many of the 3rd world nations live off of the largess of the 1st world nations. We can debate the pros and cons of the situation, but that’s reality today. If the 1st world nations suffer a setback monetarily, the so does the rest of the world, be it in the form of money or food. This doesn’t even address the temporarily homeless people. If the flights stayed grounded for a month, do you think there would be a problem? What about the people that budgeted for a week in Europe only to find they had to fend for themselves for 2 weeks? There are a myriad of other RL scenarios that I haven’t touched. Suffice it to say, the world needs the transports up and moving and the sooner, the better.

    “3. Might some scientists use this opportunity to “cheat” you ask? May I ask, what precisely does that question even mean? It has no more value than my asking you, if there is a thermometer in the forest but no one to read it, does the temperature change?”

    Given the predominant subject of this site, I’m surprised you asked.

    “As for your post later in this thread:
    “Also, what to (do) when the relevant science has been neglected, and all we have are Models”

    To which I advise, if the relevant science has been neglected, then we have no means to build a model. If the relevant science has been neglected, then the only answer is to do the science………”

    Well, if you don’t see the urgency, then, yes, that’s the solution. I really doubt the science would be any better than the models if it were completed in less than a month or two.

    “Your application of PNS in this case is hence falsified. ……….”

    I guess, it’s how you perceive it. You mentioned later about process, I think that’s his goal. OTOH, I’m not one that believes a person can apply a “one size fits all” in the “scientific” process. Just my 2 cents.

  197. Dan (11:51:10) :

    “ScientistForTruth (08:05:13) :

    A quick read through the ICAO document reveals what ICAO means by detectable: Visible to the eye or visible on a satellite picture.
    With volcanoes more or less active all the time, there is probably some traces of ash present most of the time. Invisible to the eye and the satellites.”

    That doesn’t solve the problem. Any day someone might come ourt with a sensor that can detect (via satellite or wherever) much lower ash concentrations. You can’t set safety on the limit of detectability, otherwise, with progress, you are raising the bar forever – and you could arrive at a situation where you can operate nothing. You have to set safety based on an acceptable risk.

  198. Regarding Professor Jerom Ravetz’s apparent comparison of this incident to parallel the case for CAGW, I must make a few comments.

    First I must say “apparent” because the good Prof is not (to me anyway) clear in either current brevity or previous long winded comments. Does the man ever say clearly what he is thinking, or are statements of clarity to close to the willo-the-wisp of ever evasive truth?

    Secondly I must say that I find his refusal to respond to comments directly (as Willis and Mr. Goddard successful and repeatedly do) somewhat irking, perhaps elitist.

    And finally to the substance, the two; CAGW and this volcanic eruption are not remotely parallel for several reasons. In the volcanic situation people are unconvinced for a few weeks verses the possible loss of hundreds of lives. In the CAGW situation we do not know if we are driving in to a cliff, (terrible warming) or over the edge into an ice age, or neither. The consequences of worldwide action could be worse then the disease that may not exist.

    Also there are KNOW benefits to CO2. There are no known benefits to flying into an ash cloud.

    Finally the effectiveness of the precautionary action is known with the volcano. You will not crash if you do not fly. However with CAGW we have to fly, world economies have to keep going, and trying to backtrack the world to the 1940s would create world wide disaster and such stress could easily lead to world wide war.

    This is the barest beginning of what is wrong with this comparison, and as previous comments stated, this is an engineering question and such decisions have been made for centuries, no need for “post normal anything.

  199. Ravetz:

    Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat?

    The old fashion idea is that science informs policy. This dispute is in the realm of policy, which perhaps involves the science but where decisions are made differently. I’m late to the discussion again, but as someone who has analysed PNS academic papers, some clarification and implications of Ravetz’s bit of fun are in order.

    When the first head of the EPA banned DDT against the evidence of the science, he justified the decision by saying that the EPA decisions are not scientific but political, indeed science…has a role to play but the ultimate judgement remains political. Like it or lump it, the EPA was founded as a political organisation. Not so the Royal Society, not so, Nature, the AIP etc.

    PNS analysis serves to encourage that the modes of political decision-making (in a democracy) invade the normal processes of sciences. So, in such situations (Vocanic Ash, FMD, AGW), instead of encouraging efforts to separate the science from the politics, PNS encourages politics to invade the science.

    The PNS analysis argues that if a science is assessed as Post-Normal then the ‘Extended Peer Community’ should be mobalised in the processes of science – not just in the (policy) review of the science. This community includes all stakeholders, which include activist organisations.

    We should be asking Ravetz how he feels about the IPCC citing non-scientific papers including activist propaganda. In such situations (Ash cloud, FMD, AGW) PNS analysis encourages the dismissal of scientific debate over the evidence-based of the science so as to focus on the value debate of vested-interest groups (according to their interests about safety, risk-taking etc). Whereas with this Ash Cloud, as with AGW, I would rather encourage the science to be as separate as possible from the politics — from the stake-holders — so as to make the answer to the question What are the Facts? What does the science tell us? easier to distingish from the stake-holders to make their decisions.

    Scientific processes and institutions have long been established in order to guard against politicisation, with varying success. What we have seen at WUWT is good evidence of extensive corruption of these processes with AGW alarmism, corruption defended and supported by the ancient institutions of science. And corrupted in ways that PNS would encourages.

    It is Mike Hulme, more than anyone else, who realised the value of PNS in this sort of corruption, and it is his use of PNS to eschew evidence-based debate that we should be asking Ravetz about. I am not sure he would find this so much fun. See more at Post-normal science and the corruption of climate science

  200. Maybe I got it wrong and they didn’t bother to use the Met Office Volcanic Ash detection Satellites
    source: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/aviation/vaac/ash_detection.html

    The excerpt has now been picked-up by the Telegraph; Tuesday 20 April 2010

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/7608722/Volcanic-ash-cloud-Met-Office-blamed-for-unnecessary-six-day-closure.html

    “The government agency was accused of using a scientific model based on “probability” rather than fact to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud that made Europe a no-fly zone and ruined the plans of more than 2.5 million travellers in and out of Britain.”

    “A senior European official said there was no clear scientific evidence behind the model, which air traffic control services used to justify the unprecedented shutdown.”

    “The International Air Transport Association (Iata), the airline industry trade body, also criticised the decision to close airspace based on theoretical modelling of the ash cloud.”

  201. The UK Met needs to be disbanded and started over from scratch.

    Their reliance on modeling is unprecedentedly bad.

    They are the living breathing example, to some extent along with NOAA, and NASA, of what Science becomes when it abandons direct observations and relies upon computer extrapolations.

    Sound familiar??

    I sincerely hope some class-action lawsuits proceed from this overreaction!

    Chris
    Norfolk Virginia USA

  202. Jeremy (14:29:30) : wrote

    “In the West, we live in a modern ‘climate’ of fear and doom. It sure looks like a power grab by politician’s so that they can regulate everything – even the air we breathe. If it all sounds like a fundamentalist priest’s sermon about a “fiery hell” then do not be surprised because the aim of our politicians is the same: control through fear.”

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

    It is pretty clear that we sheeple are being manipulated for profit and power.”

    We are all laboratory guinea pigs for the global elite and every other social group construct out there that wields power, manipulated in every way imaginable. If you don’t think so, you have cognitive dissonance.

    Another poster wrote;
    It’s better to be safe than sorry. NO IT IS NOT! That saying only applies when common sense is applied. When common sense is not applied in the name of keeping us safe, it is called Tyranny.

  203. stevengoddard (08:25:20) :
    “The density of ash various tremendously spatially and temporally, with eruption parameters and wind changing constantly. The fact that a few cherry picked test flights made it though safely isn’t particularly interesting.

    Challenger O-Rings worked fine, until they didn’t. The computer simulations are the best tool available.”

    Steven. I might be a bit late to the party, but not sure of the relationship with O-Rings and computer models that you are implying. I understood that the Nasa and Morton Thiokol engineers new exactly what the temperature limitations of the O-Rings were and recommended not to launch because the OAT was well below the range that the O-Rings were designed and tested for. This was a case where a management decision overruled an engineers decision with obvious results. Not sure where computer models come into this story.
    The problem with any computer software is knowing when not to believe it. The aviation industry in particular trains pilots not to trust instrumentation or onboard computers and to cross check with their own calculations and observations.

  204. Apparently European travel insurance policies do not cover these ‘acts of god’ (or whatever they may call them), so there are shed loads of European tourists hanging about here in Oz, and I assume everywhere else, with no recourse to any funds from insurance to cover expenses or other losses. Poor buggers.

    Luckily policies here in Oz do cover natural events. Probably because there are so many natural things down here that can stuff up any holiday, is my son’s theory.

  205. With the quiet sun, volcanic activity, and ocean currents, more specifically El Nino ending and possible La Nina beginning, how much cooling will the earth see by the end of this year?

    Joe Bastardi calls reversal of ocean cycles, low sun spot activity and an increase in volcanic activity the ‘triple crown of cooling’.

    article with 4:33 video:

    http://www.outloudopinion.com/2009/12/11/accuweather-forecaster-on-climate-change-it%E2%80%99s-ice-not-fire-you%E2%80%99re-going-to-be-worried-about-down-the-road/

    An good post for WUWT might be Joe Bastardi giving his thoughts on potential cooling.

  206. James Sexton;
    Well, if you don’t see the urgency, then, yes, that’s the solution. I really doubt the science would be any better than the models if it were completed in less than a month or two>>

    A month or two? Seriously? I thought this was “urgent”. Not an inconvenience, but an economic disaster. To be extended no doubt by the volcano going off repeatedly. If it is that urgent, that costly, and the science hasn’t been done yet, then by all means let’s take this opportunity to do the science.

    Put half a dozen military aircraft right into the ash cloud. Over the ocean so if they crash they don’t land on anyone. Pilots can eject and they signed up for danger in the first place. Fly in the ash for hours. If the planes don’t crash they land and get disassembled. All moving parts get sent to labs for microscopic inspection for abnormal wear. Should be done by Friday. OK, counting all the paperwork January of 2023. Declare a state of emergency (you said it was urgent) so that the normal paperwork can be bypassed. Now its done by Friday. And it is science, not PNS.

  207. PNS – I’ve thought about it. For what it’s worth, I think it is a mistake to introduce some “post” fangled framework to the study of climate. The scientific methods espoused in (most) science textbooks, and in at least what I was taught in school, serve pretty well. I’ve often found it strange that natural science historians (paleoclimatologists), when speculating about the future, throw away basic principles because they believe anthropogenic influences (specifically rapid, geologically speaking, increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide) are unprecedented. I think we know, or at least will find out for sure someday through observation, that plate tectonics isn’t always that slow to change “stable” climatic conditions (for example, what volcanoes can do).

    As far as the ash plumes and air travel goes, seems like emergency response 101. First, do all you can to protect life and property. 2nd, assess the situation, and move on from there. No need for PNS.

    As someone pointed out above, those in charge of the safety of air transit will be SUED if lives are lost due to an accident tied to the volcanism. So, they restricted air travel to protect lives (and their agencies’ arses). Next step, assess the situation. OF COURSE economics are impacted. We’ll see lawsuits regardless of real lives lost.

  208. From an administrator of a professional pilot’s web site…

    In the early morning hours of February 28, 2000, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) DC-8 Airborne Sciences research airplane inadvertently flew through a diffuse plume of volcanic ash from the Mt. Hekla volcano.

    There were no indications to the flight crew, but sensitive onboard instruments detected the 35-hr-old ash plume. Upon landing there was no visible damage to the airplane or engine first-stage fan blades; later borescope inspection of the engines revealed clogged turbine cooling air passages. The engines were removed and overhauled at a cost of $3.2 million.

    Satellite data analysis of the volcanic ash plume trajectory indicated the ash plume had been transported further north than predicted by atmospheric effects. Analysis of the ash particles collected in cabin air heat exchanger filters showed strong evidence of volcanic ash, most of which may have been ice-coated (and therefore less damaging to the airplane) at the time of the encounter. Engine operating temperatures at the time of the encounter were sufficiently high to cause melting and fusing of ash on and inside high-pressure turbine blade cooling passages.

    There was no evidence of engine damage in the engine trending results, but some of the turbine blades had been operating partially uncooled and may have had a remaining lifetime of as little as 100 hr.

    There are currently no fully reliable methods available to flight crews to detect the presence of a diffuse, yet potentially damaging volcanic ash cloud.

    Having sailed through volcanic dust, I can vouch that air intakes and sensors become blocked and become ineffective, but my reading of this current situation is that turbofan aircraft can be flown in this environment but component life is shortened.

  209. RajKapoor

    That is too funny.

    Folks that fell for it…. You know who you are! It is still April.

    As some of you noticed the names etc. were to far out.

    Very nice, very funny.

  210. The insurance companies are the ones making money. They are the ones with the no tolerance issue. You fly in ash, we no pay. Which is why we need to really think about climate change insurance. These money grabbing insurance businesses could shut the entire planet down so they don’t have to shell out their precious coinage.

    Insurance companies basically own the house rules and the rest of us put money into their pot on a gamble. The stock holders know this is a good bet and so invest in insurance stocks (which are not a small portion of today’s stock market), which also means that as long as governments support such businesses, the stock market stays healthy. Take them off line as bad guys and the market could crash. The world however, gets fleeced. Unless of course you own insurance stock. Then you make money.

    You can even look like a clown on Arctic Ice. It don’t matter. Being an insurance agency is like owning a gambling casino. There is no way you can lose, even if you look like a stupid idiot for sponsoring other stupid idiots to explore how thin the ice is. It will be a money maker for you.

    I predict that one of these days, the only businesses that will be making money are insurance agencies, while the rest of us are too scared to take responsibility for our own mess on the floor.

  211. davidmhoffer (17:16:04) :

    James Sexton;
    Well, if you don’t see the urgency, then, yes, that’s the solution. I really doubt the science would be any better than the models if it were completed in less than a month or two>>

    “A month or two? Seriously? I thought this was “urgent”. Not an inconvenience, but an economic disaster. To be extended no doubt by the volcano going off repeatedly. If it is that urgent, that costly, and the science hasn’t been done yet, then by all means let’s take this opportunity to do the science.

    Put half a dozen military aircraft right into the ash cloud. Over the ocean so if they crash they don’t land on anyone. Pilots can eject and they signed up for danger in the first place. Fly in the ash for hours. If the planes don’t crash they land and get disassembled. All moving parts get sent to labs for microscopic inspection for abnormal wear. Should be done by Friday. OK, counting all the paperwork January of 2023. Declare a state of emergency (you said it was urgent) so that the normal paperwork can be bypassed. Now its done by Friday. And it is science, not PNS.”

    lol, again, far be it from me to try and defend Dr. Ravetz or the PNS assertion. I’m just sayin……

    Anyway, yes, your scenario works for the immediate. But, what of moving into the future? Here’s mine, state of emergency is declared, paperwork and extraneous bs bypassed. All things seem a go. And they do. Later, only to find, the flaps work as effective as Toyota breaks for one reason or the other. Suddenly, we’ve got what??? I’ll restate, even given a month or two(regardless of the urgency), the science wouldn’t be anymore reliable than the models. They could give us probablys, and shoulds, but that’s all.

    Maybe I’m looking at it differently than many, but Dr. Ravetz is attempting to give science a different, but needed, way of looking at things. “Scientists”, have given us a mess that we are dealing with regarding the CAGW theory. Charitably, one could say the “scientists” didn’t realize the consequences of their pontificating and the effect it had on society. Or, if one is less charitable, one could say there are a bunch of ideologues grouped into a strain of “science” that is manipulating decision makers of this world. Either way, the societal impact of the CAGW alarmist group is unmistakable and needs to be considered when a scientist states unequivocally something or another(it happened before PNS). Such as the icecaps holding the earth in or clean air is accelerating global warming.

    In the end, nothing replaces ethics, but in the absence of such an antiquated notion, some guidelines or paths must be in place for our less ethical friends.

  212. 50 F here in North East Texas this morning.
    Cold, wet, foggy.
    Wheat crop looks huge, go CO2.
    We make the earth some good breakfast food, hot or cold.

    Nothing like a little volcanic dust to help crops grow, thanks iceland.

  213. Air France/KLM, Lufthansa & BA have all flown tests with no damage.

    You want ZERO risk flying? Don’t fly!

    I’ve seen multiple bird-strikes, who could model that?

    The evidence is that there is insufficient ash to be a problem, it’s a matter of detectability.

    Previous incidents have shown sand-blasting of wind-screens & significant leading edge & compressor damage, these are not in evidence.

    This is a storm in a tea-cup & another symptom of our elfin safety society.

    Would I fly? YES

    DaveE.

  214. Re: LarryD (14:27:19) :

    “A perfect mission for an telemetry instrumented UAV. An umanned, flying probe. Anybody have any?”

    You’d have to take the Hellfire’s off first…

  215. Met Office
    Europe Infrared satellite animation which is updated every hour.

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/satpics/latest_VIS.html

    British Isles: Infrared satellite animation

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/satpics/latest_uk_ir.html

    Icelandic volcano imagery

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2010/volcano/gallery.html

    Real-time satellite

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/europe/volcano/iceland.html

    Terra/MODIS is having hardware problems but a great look at sea ice

    http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/realtime/2010109/

  216. “Please note: Due to heavy web traffic, the normal site is currently offline. This is a holding page to provide updates on the Icelandic volcanic eruption. ”

    “Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Monday April 19, 2200

    Since our last statement at 1530 today, the volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK. This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working.

    Latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation is worsening in some areas. Based on this information, the situation for Northern Irish airports for the morning is uncertain, due to the new ash cloud. The latest information shows that Scottish airports should be available from 0700 and more airspace over England may become available from 1300 although not as far south as the main London airports.

    We will continue to monitor Met Office information and the situation is likely to change overnight. We will make a further statement at approximately 0300 (local time), tomorrow, Tuesday 20 April and again at 0900 (local time).”

    http://www.nats.co.uk/

  217. Excellent photos of Eyjafjallajokull from Marco Fulle

    …….

    ……..

    ………

    ………

    ……….

    ……….

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    from this link

    http://www.swisseduc.ch/stromboli/

  218. Egad I hate what the alarmists have done to my cynicism threshold. Now I,m waiting for a peer rev. Paper that tells us that the volcano and the grounding of flights have stopped agw and they will be forecasting cold weather over the next few years bsed on their models. Already there has been a few allusions to the 9\11 grounging of flights ushering in cooler weather in this post.

  219. My problem with some of the use of precautionary principles, is that analysis paralysis overwhelms normal decision making.

    The groundings may have been acceptable initially but the modelling should have been tested real world immediately. The agencies should have been testing, not sitting behind a computer screen.

    Our aircraft fly in some of the most extreme weather conditions nature can throw up, day in day out. They fly and divert around major storms and so on.

    Conspiracy is yelled when business operators do what the agenicies should do. Test the computer based theory against reality in real time.

    Then a real life and death decision can be made, scientifically and at arms length to conflict of interest.

    Aaargh.

  220. “Ric Werme (15:18:00):

    Oh come on. We already had one lame hoax post in this thread. If it were a satellite in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) it would be above the horizon for only 15 minutes or so. If it were in geosynchronous orbit it would be way too faint to see during the day … I don’t think there is an Earth orbit that would leave a satellite visible for an hour over London. ”

    Me and a friend spotted it and observed the satellite for an hour. We saw it move in a straight line at first, then it stopped in place for 15 mins, then it moved across to the left and again stopped for 30 mins in one place. In the photo I posted that’s when it made it’s first stop. Each move was around 20 degree arc of the sky and took less than a minute to complete that distance. There’s nothing except satellites which can make such manoeuvres and UFOs don’t count. Yes, it was very faint but you can see satellites with your naked eye during the day if sunlight is reflecting off them and the sky is very clear.

  221. James Sexton;
    I’ll restate, even given a month or two(regardless of the urgency), the science wouldn’t be anymore reliable than the models. They could give us probablys, and shoulds, but that’s all.>>

    OK, wear analysis 101.
    1. Visual inspection of all parts by qualified technicians during disassembly.
    2. Fluid samples for all working systems (hydraulics, lubrication, etc) sent for spectrographic analysis to identify existance of microscopic contaminants. Number of labs that can do this is enormous. There is one in every Caterpillar dealership world wide for example. Turn around is usually 24 hours.
    3. Fluid samples for all working systems sent for ferrographic analysis. Fewer labs do this, but turn around is usually 48 hours or less. Detects all abnormal wear particles from surfaces in contact with the fluids and frequently identifies root cause (ash imbedded in journal bearings for example). This can be done with grease as well, andf the presence of ash in any of the fluids will be identified. (Particles larger than 10 microns or so may be missed by spectrographic analysis, but ferrography captures everything up to several hundred microns)
    4. All parts exposed to air or which are working surfaces are sent to metallurgy labs for a variety of tests. These include tests for the existance of micro-fractures not visible to the naked eye, and microscopic inspection for abnormal wear. A large number of labs exist which do this work normally, particularly in areas with aerospace or automotive industries. Turn around is typically longer, but in consideration of the gravity of the situation you should be able to get results in 72 hours.
    5. Any abnormal wear is noted and evaluated to determine effect on the lifetime of the part via standard engineering wear analysis procedures, preferably in conjunction with the design engineers and the original manufacturer.
    6. Its Friday. You have the results. Make a decision.

    Seriously, this is tedious and and detailed work, but there is no real “research” here. These are tested and reliable methods that are used every day by many many many manufacturers to estimate lifetime of parts, reduce wear and failure, and by industry for predictive maintenance. Nothing earth shattering.

    Unless of course PNS gets involved in which case people with no expertise will make urgent decisions out of an abundance of caution and decide that the risks are too great because the science is uncertain and ban air travel until all the volcanos have been dormant for a minimum of two years. PNS isn’t about doing the science right. It is about creating excuses for not doing the science and making decisions without it. That’s how shuttles get blown up. That’s how blood letters get to be medical practitioners. That’s why there are no virgins in Denmark, they’ve heard how you stop volcanoes from erupting. PNS isn’t how you put guidelines in place for “our less ethical friends”. PNS is how our less ethical friends get to justify pushing their decisions upon the rest of us.

  222. Much earlier (2010-04-16), in tips, I wrote:

    Bernd Felsche (09:04:58) :

    A closing down of ALL UK airports doesn’t seem justified, looking at the images published by the UK Met Office’s VAAC http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/aviation/vaac/vaacuk_vag.html

    Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to be clear for the most part. Atlantic flights could use e.g. Glasgow if alternates in Ireland such as Dublin are acceptable.

    Or doesn’t anybody trust the Met Office?
    ————–
    Apparently too much and the consequences of their incompetence have been vastly under-estimated.

  223. RajKapoor (08:20:17) :

    Biography:
    RKapoor (born 4 September 1952) is an Indian Bollywood actor, film producer and director.
    Source: Wikipedia

    Has Raj brought the industry to its knees?

  224. This whole shut-down was based upon MET models?

    There have been eruptions going on around the world for years and planes negotiated their way around them. If proper air samples had been collected, instead of looking only at models, this total cessation of air transport over Europe may have been needed only until there was a clear picture of what was up there, rather than a blanket order to stop all travel.

    The disruption to trade with countries that rely upon it has been enormous.

  225. Anthony might like to do a post on what Michael (13:33:37) put up.

    An elephant weighs about 3000Kg. At 70Kg per human and 35 elephants (microbes in the oceans actually) each, the elephants out mass us by 1500 to one. As a first cut assume the biological metabolic rate of the ocean organisms is the same as people and even if people through technological activity put out 20 times as waste product as microbes per unit mass that still means we are out activitied by 75 to 1.

    Might put our impact on the planet in perspective.

  226. davidmhoffer (19:04:53) :

    “I said Denmark, I meant Iceland. No virgins in Iceland. Lot’s in Denmark though, they are are rowing over from Iceland in boats.”

    lmao…..that’s a hoot!!!

    On the other subject, IDK, it seems, whatever methodology, it’s worked. A couple of days stranded, people are on the go now. No jets crashing and burning nor people. I understand you’re view. On your last point, “6. Its Friday. You have the results. Make a decision.” It’s always going to be a judgment call and someone has to make it. Regardless of the process employed or the results in hand.

    It just seems to me, traditional science let us down in regards to the CAGW scare. Whether the alarmist crowd employed PNS or not, the rest of the scientific world was deafening mute during most of the debate. Only now are we hearing from the more traditional scientific community and it’s still just a murmur. I agree, in a perfect world and in a vacuum, science should operate in a more traditional manner. It doesn’t today, it won’t tomorrow. The CAGW scare exemplifies the way it will go if something doesn’t change. We can no longer simply accept on face value the words “scientists say…”.

    A new methodology will be employed. I truly hope the one that is, asks the question, “Is this analysis an invitation to scientists to cheat? “

  227. Well at least we have a preview of cost of what total Green will do to the Airlines and assosciated economies: $200M / day.
    3rd world countries can now line up to pick up some fancy jets at the next EU garage sale.

  228. As an airline pilot, I think in this case that the situation is not overrated. The classic ash scenario that we practice for in the sim for loss of thrust from both engines, this is a dire emergency. That’s easy. The problem faced here is extremely problematic and frustrating as the danger is not as apparent or clear cut.

    As It is true that we don’t really know what an acceptable level of ash is for turbofan/prop ops then we don’t really know what level of threat we are dealing with.

    I doubt that sampling the air is going to yield reliable data on its own. We need to be fairly certain that huge areas of interconnected airspace are ash free. Clearly as it would be very difficult to visually identify the ash cloud (impossible at night) then operational pilot observations cannot be used as a means of assessment either. Neither can weather radars detect ash. The computer model is probably the best tool we have coupled with air samples with test flights over time. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2010/volcano/arsf/

    The reality is that have no idea of the impact of light ash on insidious factors such as the subsequent performance of the airplane. An apparently safe flight might result being unable to restart on the turnaround or even a total hull loss simply because the aircraft couldn’t generate enough thrust to get airborne for the return leg. Perhaps, the pitot/static system later malfunctions. Perhaps one or more crew become incapacitated.

    In terms of cost, a 747 requiring four new engines would be an aircraft grounded for a week and probably $2m for each engine. And that is if it is fortunate enough to be at an engineering base. Imagine the impact on an airline that has 50% of its fleet grounded.

    The risk to people and businesses is real and quantifiable. Unfortunately, unlike other risks that airlines and pilots deal with on daily basis, there is very little that can be done to mitigate said risks other than to be certain where the ask isn’t and allow flights only in that airspace.

  229. James Sexton;
    It just seems to me, traditional science let us down in regards to the CAGW scare. Whether the alarmist crowd employed PNS or not, the rest of the scientific world was deafening mute during most of the debate. Only now are we hearing from the more traditional scientific community and it’s still just a murmur.>>

    On this point, I must agree with you. I do business with a lot of researchers and I long have noticed a reluctance for one discipline to level criticism against another. Each seems to expect that the others are self policing. Physicists will tear each other to shreds over a minor point, but they don’t tend to call chemists out for making a mistake, they leave that to other chemists and so on and so forth. When climate science managed to exclude dissent from within their own ranks, a consensus formed that other disciplines were reluctant to challenge until most recently, and, as you have pointed out, it is still just a murmur.

    I don’t see PNS as the solution, I see it as the problem. When the bulk of research is both funded by public money and also informs public policy (which directs more public money) a vicious circle begins. Political interests see the opportunity to advance their agenda and the scientists become pressured to deliver supporting results to fuel it (and maintain their funding). Read the Climategate emails, it is pretty evident. I believe the acquisition of data and the analysis need to be completely separate endeavours by completely different groups of people. When you have a single researcher doing both, the opportunity for cherry picking and biased analysis is just too difficult to reverse engineer and expose… even for a scientist from another discipline. Researching the Sun? That’s different. But on something like climate where the research feeds back into policy, stronger measures are required.

  230. Does anyone remember this eruption? Where were all the scare stories surrounding this event? All the recent scare shit surrounding the Iceland eruption is for a reason. It’s to continue scaring the shit out of you and keep you living in fear.

    Montserrat Volcano 1-7-07 2 Days Before Evacuation

  231. ScientistForTruth (16:25:35) :

    That is more or less my point. The Met Office computer modeled ash cloud does not include any information on concentrations. The actual concentrations within the real cloud is very likely varied.
    Obviously there is a lower limit below which it is safe to operate.
    Until the cloud maps include information on concentrations, the safe approach must be to stay out of the cloud.

  232. “Are you unaware of the video showing the black plumes of smoke coming from the area of an O-ring on the right SRB *while still on the launch pad* ?”

    A leak which, if I remember correctly, then sealed itself either due to O-ring movement or junk filling the gap until it reopened again later in the flight due to the stresses of wind-shear. I believe that’s supported by trajectory, thrust vectoring and pressure data during the flight; a persistent leak would affect all of those.

    While NASA should never have ignored the SRB engineers, the Challenger crew really did get quite unlucky that day.

    Back on topic, the fundamental problem is that if some burrowcrat says that it’s safe to fly and a plane crashes, they lose their job and may even go to jail. If they say it’s not safe to fly, then there’s no risk; if they get sued for causing airlines to go out of business, they just say they were relying on the best scientific advice available and throw the Met office to the wolves.

  233. The only valid use of the zero-tolerance principle, IMO, is for the use of zero-tolerance in any real world application. Whenever I see the phrase “zero-tolerance” in a medical paper, I immediately cease reading the paper under the assumption that the author is either an idiot or innumerate. Zero has a very clear mathematical meaning which people seem to have difficulty grasping. I’m confronted with the desire for zero-risk on at least a weekly basis where a patient won’t take a drug unless I assure them there is zero-risk of side effects. Of course this is impossible for me to do and I think I’ve caused patients anxiety when I ask them if they’re worried about suffocating while in my exam room for, after all, there is a small but non-zero probability that all of the molecules of air in the part of the room where they are seated will head to the opposite side of the room leaving them in a vacuum. The response I get to this statement has convinced me that an appreciation of real world event probabilities in the general population is very rare indeed.

    When I first heard about the European ash-cloud grounding air traffic I naively assumed that there would be an immediate program of test flights with dust collectors flying transits through the cloud. Given the demonstrated effects of high concentrations of atmospheric volcanic ash on jet engines, I assumed that there would be scores of military propeller powered aircraft mapping the ash concentrations at various altitudes and studying the progression and dispersion of the ash. Nothing has surprised me more when I found out there were no test flights but that instead a computer model was being used to predict the progress of the ash cloud and to determine when it would be safe to fly. The only way I can characterize such an approach is complete imbecility and one should find out what institutions of “higher’ learning the individuals making these decisions attended so one knows what universities to steer students away from.

    Every jet aircraft that flies through a rainstorm is exposed to non-zero concentrations of dust as dust particles serve as condensation nuclei for raindrops. We know well the hazards that aircraft experience in such conditions and glass coatings on turbine blades aren’t anywhere near the top of the list. Those who suggested safe exposure limits to various dust concentrations are absolutely correct and the ignorance of this fact by those making decisions about whether aircraft fly or not is frightening. When stupidity on such a massive scale is manifested it is no wonder that the spectre of totalitarian control of air travel is brought up so often.

    What worries me as a physician is that the government (Canada has socialized medicine) will chose to cut costs by replacing lab tests with computer models. After all, the price of computer time is steadily dropping whereas the cost of doing laboratory tests continues to climb. Rather than order a CT scan on a patient, I’m sure that bureaucrats would prefer that all of the clinical data was entered into a human physiologic simulation and I could tell a patient: “Mrs Jones, the computer says you don’t have lung cancer and predicts you will die from a myocardial infarct so here is the exercise program and diet the computer program has computed for you.” The computer modeling approach would also forbid the performance of autopsies as there seems to be no need for actual measured data to refine the predictions of these highly sophisticated and infallible computer models.

  234. God,yes,please.Ground ALL aircraft from Euroweenie land so they can’t infect NA. And the “Royal” society is worried.Well’royal inbreeding will do that to ya.

  235. “Post-Normal Science” is what Obama is using to get to Mars (ha ha to that). Apply to electricity, but first stock a warehouse of candles. NO THANKS. “Nature is not fooled” — Richard Feynman.

  236. This volcano had been steaming for about a month. Why didn’t the Volcano analysis center at the Met and/or the airlines have plans in place to send up drones or scout planes to evaluate the actual ash dispersion? Why didn’t the decision makers start scenario-planning in advance of the event, and consulting with one another? Etc. This isn’t just a scandal about decision making. The quality of the decisions made is arguable. What’s not arguable is the scandalous lack of preparedness and foresight.

  237. Dan (22:27:46) :

    ScientistForTruth (16:25:35) :

    “That is more or less my point. The Met Office computer modeled ash cloud does not include any information on concentrations. The actual concentrations within the real cloud is very likely varied.
    Obviously there is a lower limit below which it is safe to operate.
    Until the cloud maps include information on concentrations, the safe approach must be to stay out of the cloud.”

    Is that really the case, i.e. “computer modeled ash cloud does not include any information on concentrations”? If you read the papers in the International Symposium I mentioned (1991) and those published since, there are certainly models that deal with concentration and particle size distribution with time and distance from the source. I’ll grant you that a satellite photo won’t give you a lot of information other than position and extent, but that is actually very valuable as more likely to be accurate than any model of extent and position. But position, extent, distance from source, height and time from ejection should, with some fairly simple modelling, give a pretty good starting point.

    Practically all the data has shown that there is no ash worth speaking of up to 20,000 ft. Jets are somewhat less efficient at that altitude, and of course to set that as an altitude limit is going to reduce the available airspace, but surely it should be possible to run a ‘skeleton’ service up to 20,000ft, or 15,000ft if one wants to play really safe. If all non-essential flights are curtailed, it should still be possible to run at, say, 25% of normal capacity to be able to repatriate Britons who are currently stranded.

    As another commenter has observed, air ambulances are not even allowed to fly, and this is resulting in avoidable deaths. To me, to stop essential and emergency services, which can fly at low level, is absolutely insane. The precautionary principle is defective in that it does not account for the risk of not doing something.

  238. @ Daniel H (09:33:31):

    Thank you for injecting some sanity into this discussion. I was quite surprised to see so many nanny-state “better safe than sorry” supporters on a blog critical of the environmental bureaucracy.

    @ Everyone else: If you think it is “better safe than sorry” – DON’T FLY. Let everyone else make their own personal decisions and succeed or fail by them. You have no right to forcibly impose your will on others, no matter if you have 51% of the vote or even 99% of the vote.

  239. Mike Haseler (15:11:20) :
    Tenuc “No need for post normal science in the decision process here. It’s a no brainer – inconvenience travellers or risk killing them!”

    “At an average death rate of 1 in 40,000 per day there have already been a dozen or so deaths abroad because of the precautionary principle.

    This is just an absurd attitude to risk. Any kind of travelling brings a risk of death and only a complete idiot would try to say: “any risk is too high” because that totally ignores the fact that if people can’t fly they are forced to go by far more risky means of travel.

    Wow! I’m glad you’re not the decision maker at NATS.

    All evidence shows that flying modern jet aircraft through even light volcanic ash is dangerous. You’d need to be stupid to want to fly until you knew there would be clear air space for the duration of your journey.

  240. ScientistForTruth:

    As of yesterday, data from ground-based lidars and several research aircraft flights suggest the majority of the ash is between 2-3.5km altitude – much lower than the most airliners cruise at (and below the 20kft altitude you suggest) So the issue isnt at-altitude ash, it is encountering ash during ascents and descents – the most critical parts of a flight.

  241. ScientistForTruth (01:59:06) :

    On all Advisory Charts (except this one, of course) the Met Office has stated that they do not have any information on the ash concentration.
    But you may have a point; The Met Office should have at least a model of the various concentrations, otherwise the computer model would not know where the cloud limits are.
    I believe aerial sampling is the only way to go.

  242. “Obviously there is a lower limit below which it is safe to operate.”
    Unless we are talking about isolated particles, I seriously doubt it. For the ATC and the air routes to function there will have to be large amounts of clear and contiguous airspace. Establish that with a moving ash cloud is extremely difficult.

    “Practically all the data has shown that there is no ash worth speaking of up to 20,000 ft.”

    One simply cannot say that there are fronts and systems in play. A warm could push the ash right down to the floor as could a high pressure system, where as a convective cell or terrain can send it up higher.

    “Every jet aircraft that flies through a rainstorm is exposed to non-zero concentrations of dust as dust particles serve as condensation nuclei for raindrops. We know well the hazards that aircraft experience in such conditions and glass coatings on turbine blades aren’t anywhere near the top of the list. Those who suggested safe exposure limits to various dust concentrations are absolutely correct and the ignorance of this fact by those making decisions about whether aircraft fly or not is frightening. ”

    Of course there is dust in the atmosphere. But to compare rain and a normal everyday environment to volcanic ash is just a symptom of how ignorant people are of the true issues at stake. The fact is that volcanic ash is not like a bit of dust or rain, it is extremely abrasive and destructive. Unlike many other environment factors that we deal with each day, there is no way to mitigate against this risk other than to avoid it. The specific consequences of light ash are unknown but can be sensibly assumed to be bad, unquantifiably so.

    “Nothing has surprised me more when I found out there were no test flights but that instead a computer model”

    I just shows that you shouldn’t believe what the papers say then doesn’t it. It is seriously surprising that people who read this blog doubt anything related to CC but suddenly jump on this issue as if the MSM knows what it is suddenly talking about.

    “Practically all the data has shown that there is no ash worth speaking of up to 20,000 ft.”

    The fact is that military jet observation flights have suffered engine damage.

    “@ Everyone else: If you think it is “better safe than sorry” – DON’T FLY. Let everyone else make their own personal decisions and succeed or fail by them. You have no right to forcibly impose your will on others, no matter if you have 51% of the vote or even 99% of the vote.”

    That is a somewhat irrational point of view. Passengers simply cannot assess the level of risk and therefore the decision needs to made for them as is the case for any level of significant risk during any normal operation. I can just see it now ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there is a thunderstorm with 3nm of the far end of the runway. If you want to fly, press the green button and the red button for no. 51% wins the vote. Good luck!”

  243. Today’s Daily Telegraph has this headline banner on the front page: “Met Office got it wrong over ban on flights”. The report says: “The government agency was accused of using a scientific model based on “probability” rather than fact to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud”.

    This all sounds horribly familiar. In some branches of science – climate science probably being the biggest offender but not the only one – it seems that the output of computer models is more important than empirical data. Of course, models can be useful, but as forecasting tools they can be very, very wrong. A good example is the Met Office seasonal forecasts that they have now abandoned.

    It’s quite ironic that the EU, one of the biggest climate alarmists, is actually questioning the validity of this computer model.

    The Telegraph also reports that there may be class actions brought by the airlines and other affected businesses against the Met Office and NATS. If this happens, and it does seem likely, the sums will be in the billions of dollars. It could be fascinating: we may actually see a computer model put on trial!

    The Met Office have claimed they did make some measurements. In this new climate of data transparency and openness, I trust they will make all the measurements publicly available. Meanwhile, back in the real world….
    Chris

  244. The Daily Telegraph is not impressed with the met office nor with computer modelling.

    “Volcanic ash cloud: Met Office blamed for unnecessary six-day closure

    The Met Office has been blamed for triggering the “unnecessary” six-day closure of British airspace which has cost airlines, passengers and the economy more than £1.5 billion.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/7608722/Volcanic-ash-cloud-Met-Office-blamed-for-unnecessary-six-day-closure.html

  245. Tenuc,

    “All evidence shows that flying modern jet aircraft through even light volcanic ash is dangerous.”

    Really? Do you have any citation for that assertion? And what do you mean by dangerous? Dangerous as in a non-zero risk exists that particles of ash may stop an engine? Or dangerous as in a reasonable chance exists that this will happen? Statements that I have read suggest that there does not in fact exist any database of volcanic ash concentrations and engine damage, and that the default position adopted is a no fly policy if ANY ash exists.

    Of course, if you are correct, that volcanic ash at any non zero concentration presents a measurable risk to life, then this whole argument is redundant and it becomes the axiom that one shouldn’t fly. So the airlines are all wrong when they complain that the airspace closure is an overreaction. The EU transport minister is wrong for now suggesting the same thing. One may ask why they are taking this position if it is already well established that low level ash fallout is a danger to aviation. Wouldn’t that make them legally culpable for any accident, since such an accident would have clearly been forewarned by the data?

    Of course, no such data exists, which is why everyone is pulling in different directions.

  246. Jerome Ravetz (11:02:18) :

    “Also, what to when the relevant science has been neglected, and all we have are Models. ”

    If the science has been neglected we don’t have relevant models. What we have is computerized guesswork.

  247. Matt,

    That was an interesting link. I noted that the measured ash particle density was aroung 20 – 30,000 parts per cm^3. This was described as diffuse in the paper, but I’m not sure how that compares with the density over Europe. The only test aircraft existing in the UK, they report, with sufficiently sensitive equipment to detect the cloud is a Dornier based at Cranfield, so I suspect the density is somewhat lower than this encounter.

    It was also interesting that although no damage was discovered on visual inspection after landing, when the engines were sent to the research center to be stripped down, this was found not to be the case. It is interesting because about 40 test flights have now been carried out by commercial airlines and they have reported no damage. Either the cloud density is a lot lower than encountered in this example, or they haven’t subjected the engines to an in depth strip down.

    However, the take away message is that diffuse volcanic ash clouds are “worse than you think.”

  248. Tony:

    “Unless we are talking about isolated particles, I seriously doubt it”
    Point is no one seems to know. With all volcanoes around the globe active on and off, I doubt there is such a thing as “No Ash”.
    Perhaps the certification standards for aero engines need to be revised to include sensitivity to ash. In short, test cell running with metered ash ingestion and subsequent borescoping.
    Then we need to equip all airplanes with ash detectors to monitor when the concentration approaches the tested values. Not simple nor cheap, but maybe simpler and cheaper than today’s mess.

  249. @ John from CA (16:57:10) :

    What does that even mean ‘The government agency was accused of using a scientific model based on “probability” rather than fact to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud’? How do you forecast using fact? That doesnt even make sense! Can you use ‘facts’ to predict the outcome of a roll of a dice? No, you use probability… all bets for future events are made upon probabilities… The Telegraph clearly needs some new writers.

  250. Here is a situation that is desperate for a PNS summary, with input from the precautionary principle.

    The Occupational Health and Safety office here once issued a directive that no worker could lawfully climb a ladder unless it was securely fixed at top and bottom.

    Over to you, Jerome.

    Oh, for act 2, the official sign “Sheep shall not cross this bridge unless accompanied by a drover.”

    You are allowed to use “sheep” in the context of several posts above, if it helps.

  251. Sorry … not read all posts here …

    So if the EU gets (already is?) top heavy with “warmist” and “eco” types, such as those in Plane Stupid how easy will it be for them to impose excessive rules like this in the future to other industries?

    One wonders if the volcano is a great excuse for the EU to flex its muscles. What other restrictions will they impose against industry in the future. Or are they already doing so with silly CO2 targets?

    I wonder how Plane Stupid will spin this grounding.

    Scary a heck.

  252. Really this is an economic question under uncertainty – for companies, its all about balancing revenue against safety concerns and maintenance concerns. For travelers – its about the cost and inconviencnece of being stuck in an airport vs traveling with perception of increased risk of catastrophic failure.

    The LAST people who should be making decisions about flying are The govt bureaucraTS who have no skin in the game.

  253. The ash cloud is still visible on the MODIS image from 11:55 Zulu today, stretching down over the Atlantic to the west of the British Isles. This is fresh ash and lies right on the trans-atlantic routes, hopefully it’s below Flight level 300. This anti-model propaganda is being pushed by financial interests, a clear case of blaming the messenger! Dispersal of clouds by turbulent transport (i.e. the winds aloft) is something that’s been studied and tested for years and is routinely used to plan flights around volcano plumes. In this case the extended plume is over the airports so it’s difficult to route around it.

    Today’s Met Office model shows the extension westward which matches the image well.

  254. Re: Obama’s request for video ads from the public via John Galt (14:12:22)

    Words cannot express how much I love that our current President feels the need to assign homework to the general population…

  255. I fail to see the similarity between banning air travel and combating climate change. It is known that volcanic ash damages planes. If the planes go back up too early, hundreds of people could die. The cost of delay is huge, but not compared to a disaster. So the Precautionary Principle applies. With climate change, we don’t know whether increasing CO2 or decreasing it will be more harmful, so it’s impossible to decide between the two. The Precautionary Principle does not apply. I don’t see what’s ‘post-normal’ about old-fashioned logic.

  256. So is there zero tolerance for flying into Asian and African dust and pollution clouds? When has a flight been diverted from a Chinese destination because there are too many particles in the air?

  257. “With climate change, we don’t know whether increasing CO2 or decreasing it will be more harmful, so it’s impossible to decide between the two…”

    Rod… thanks for making me laugh. We know that lower CO2 limits do, in fact, cause more damage to living organisms that NEED CO2 to thrive. I’m not going to list any of them for you. Submariners handle over 5,000 ppm for extended periods of time–yes, I wouldn’t recommend that level forever, but…

    As long as the govs demand whoever is making the decisions pay for all the loss of income, expenses and such, I don’t see a problem… lol. They are paying the people’s way, aren’t they? Wait… that means my tax dollars… damn, get those planes up.

  258. Phil,

    “This anti-model propaganda is being pushed by financial interests, a clear case of blaming the messenger!”

    There seems to be some confusion on this point. A number of people are taking away the message that because the need for the ban is in dispute, this is because the models are wrong or in doubt. This is not the case. The models are correctly predicting the dispersion of the ash. The uncertainty is in how much of a risk this poses to aircraft saftey. I think, basically, there has been little research on this in the past and the default position of zero tolerance has been adopted. That is where the “facts are uncertain” comes into the picture.

  259. Vincent (10:18:49) :
    If the models can correctly predict the ash dispersion — was their a need to ground aircraft in unaffected areas?

    Fact is, the satellite data isn’t accurate under a certain ash particle size and they Don’t trust the lack of accurate input model data when lives are actually at risk.

    I don’t blame them but its a big tell about the Climate model mess.

  260. sorry, s/b “was there a need to ground aircraft”

    It’s also a nice equation to add to PNS but I’d love to hear anyone tell me what’s been “Normal” since Jacques Derrida condemned the metaphysics to a single thermodynamic law.

  261. John from CA (11:14:07) :

    “Vincent (10:18:49) :
    If the models can correctly predict the ash dispersion — was there a need to ground aircraft in unaffected areas?”

    Seems like the Met office model was wrong after all. The latest info is that the airspaces have been opened after measurements showed the ash cloud was confined to the North Atlantic when the model showed it was over Europe.

    What was I thinking, believing the models were right? Doh!

  262. Vincent (06:56:59) :
    John from CA (11:14:07) :

    “Vincent (10:18:49) :
    If the models can correctly predict the ash dispersion — was there a need to ground aircraft in unaffected areas?”

    Seems like the Met office model was wrong after all. The latest info is that the airspaces have been opened after measurements showed the ash cloud was confined to the North Atlantic when the model showed it was over Europe.

    What was I thinking, believing the models were right? Doh!

    As of course they were, the models predicted the decline of the earlier plume over Europe and the newer plume from yesterday’s eruption drifting over the Atlantic and a general drift north.

    See:

  263. Have any of the propeller heads at the Met Office heard of “Hamatan”?

    I suggest someone look into it because sand filled skies are a common state of affairs in West Africa around Xmas….yep, yes sirree …this happens EVERY year! No point in washing your car during Hamatan as it is yellow from dusty sand the next day.

    Do these Met Office boffins live in caves?

    I am appalled.

    We were flying regularly during Hamatan in West Africa even though visibility was terrible some days.

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