The VANAHEIM (Volcanic and Atmospheric Near- to far-field Analysis of plumes Helping Interpretation and Modelling) consortium was born during the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 causing unprecedented disruption of air transport across Europe. We are a group of nine UK institutes working with multiple international partners (including research centres, forecasting agencies, regulatory authorities and airlines).

The regulatory response for ensuring aviation safety during events such as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption depends on dispersion models. The accuracy of the dispersion predictions depend on the intensity of the eruption, on the model representation of the plume dynamics and the physical properties of the ash and gases in the plume. Better characterisation of these processes and properties will require improved understanding of the near-source plume region.

VANAHEIM aims to make observations and by combining these with models in order to achieve more accurate dispersion predictions. When combined with characterisations of the emissions themselves, this research will lead to enhanced predictive capability. The overarching aim is to ensure that the science and organisational lessons learned from the April/May 2010 emergency response to Eyjafjallajökull are translated fully into preparedness for future eruptions of other volcanoes.