June 16, 2011


The Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) is operated by MetService on behalf of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). One of nine VAACs that operate under the International Airways Volcano Watch, Wellington VAAC is supported through the collaborative effort of MetService, GNS, Airways New Zealand, and aircraft operators.

MetService’s role is to monitor volcanic ash cloud within New Zealand’s area of responsibility, and provide forecasts and warnings of ash cloud location to CAA and the aviation community. New Zealand’s area of responsibility covers a large part of the South Pacific, from the South Pole to the Equator and from halfway across the Tasman Sea to more than halfway to Chile.


The eruption of Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle volcano began on the 4th of June and continues. The eruption propelled small particles of volcanic ash high into the atmosphere, where strong winds have carried them as ash clouds around the Southern Hemisphere to New Zealand.


To monitor and forecast volcanic ash cloud, MetService takes careful note of observations from aircraft in flight, satellite data and computer model forecasts of ash cloud movement. Information from NIWA’s atmospheric research station at Lauder in Central Otago has proven useful in determining trends over time of the height of the base and top of the ash cloud there. We also confer closely with the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, through whose area of responsibility the ash cloud passes before reaching New Zealand’s skies. As long as there is detectable ash, we continue to provide around-the-clock monitoring and reporting on its current and future location.

Pilot reports of ash are critical to the forecasting process. MetService takes great care when fitting these pieces into the puzzle, as the ash cloud is not evenly distributed over New Zealand and is varying with time.

MetService is continuing to assist CAA and aircraft operators in their management of the risk to aviation posed by volcanic ash cloud in the New Zealand area. Because the eruption has not yet ended, it is not possible to state how much longer volcanic ash clouds will affect New Zealand’s skies. It is likely that the location and amount of ash cloud will vary considerably over the next few days.

For further information please contact:
Jacqui Bridges  Marketing and Communications Manager  04 4700 777

(C) Copyright Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd 2011

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