New way to track volcanic plumes found in ‘junk' data
GPS devices log signal strength data, but the information has generally been considered unimportant and ignored. Now scientists may be able to use signal strength data to track dangerous clouds filled with volcanic ash. Kristine Larson, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found that GPS signal strength could track volcanic plumes that could not be detected using radar or satellite photography. It's a new tool that could help pilots avoid such clouds and make air travel safer.
In May 2011, Grimsvotn, a volcano in Iceland erupted spewing thick volcanic ash that filled clouds and led to cancellation of airline travel all over Europe for several days. Read the story in the Scientific American by Ryder Diaz and Inside Science news Service here.