MetService’s role in monitoring volcanic ash

The August 7th 2012 eruption at Mount Tongariro set in motion MetService’s volcanic ash monitoring process for the aviation industry. The Volcanic Ash Advisory process involves interaction between aircraft operators, Airways Corporation and MetService, with important volcanic information input from GNS Science.

This information is also provided to Civil Aviation (CAA) and is used by them to designate Volcanic Hazard zones around those volcanoes that are known to be Volcanic Alert Level 1 or higher.

Cloud structures over NZ on 26 July

On Thursday 26 July 2012 a cold southeasterly airstream flowed onto the North Island, around an anticyclone centred just east of the South Island.
In this blog post we’ll look at some interesting small-scale cloud structures around the country on this day.
Below is the weather map at midday on Thursday 26 July. The red arrows show the sense of the broad-scale rotation around the anticyclone.

Not all Highs bring sunny weather

On Thursday 19 April 2012, New Zealand was completely surrounded by a very large High (or anticyclone). The air pressure at sea level was above 1030 hPa everywhere over New Zealand at midday on that day. Highest pressures were over inland Otago and Canterbury, peaking at 1039 hPa. Christchurch Airport was reporting 1038.2 hPa ... that's very high indeed.

The Bomb

It's been a while since a rapidly-deepening low passed close to, or over, New Zealand. I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at why the "bomb" low of Saturday 03 March 2012 deepened so quickly and why the winds around it affected the areas they did. First of all, here is a series of weather maps covering the period 1pm Friday 02 March to 1am Sunday 04 March.

A Southerly 'Buster'

On Monday 28th November 2011, a south to southwest change swept its way northwards across Otago and Canterbury during the afternoon.   Temperatures soared to 28°C preceding this change then rapidly plummeted to around 16°C.  This was a good example of what is known in Australasia as a ‘buster'.

Up and away

Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon… So the song goes, but what’s it actually like way up high in the atmosphere? Could we humans live up there if we wanted to, or had to? I recall David Attenborough doing a great documentary in the series “The Living Planet” (“The Sky Above” episode, BBC) where he ascended beneath a very large hot-air balloon, complete with oxygen mask and equipment for sampling for life specimens. It was surprising to discover that small insects could be whisked up there and freeze, before descending again and reviving.