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New model for dispersion of volcanic ash and dust in the troposphere

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: Dispersion of volcanic ash and dust is traditionally modeled as advection and Gaussian diffusion. This is the traditionin treating smoke stack plumes. About 100 meters above earth the velocity profile may disintegrate, diffusion coefficientsbecome rather unpredictable and stratified flow occur. It is suggested that gravitational flattening may be the main cause of dispersion in dust plumes above the turbulent boundary layer. A dust plume in between two layers of small temperaturedifference has a certain carrying capacity of dust. The corresponding mass loading can be estimated from the temperaturedifference between the layers above and beneath the plume. Such dust plumes will be forced to jettison a load they may havein excess of this carrying capacity; this may be seen as streak fallout from the plume. In the same time, the plume will besubjected to gravitational flattening to the sides, in addition to any diffusion if there is any. The plume width resulting from the flattening may be estimated from the temperature difference. This can explain the behavior of plumes like the plume fromthe Eyjafjallaj?kull 2010 in absence of diffusion. In the long run diffusion and gravitational flattening will cause differentdevelopments of the plume width. Gravitational flattening and streak fallouts are important elements from plume physics notincluded in most plume models. It is concluded that modelling dust plumes with diffusion and ordinary fallout only; can causeserious errors in the model, the simulated plumes will become too big. To avoid them, the new model should be included in dustmodels in the same manner as the turbulent diffusion, i.e. as a sub grid model. Then, the plume model only needs toinclude horizontal turbulent diffusion of the same order of magnitude as thevertical one.

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