Ben Esse

I am a first year PhD student in the Petrology-volcanology group at the University of Manchester, funded by a NERC DTP-CASE studentship. My area of research is in the use of UV spectroscopy to mitigate the risks posed by airborne volcanic ash. Although many large particles of ash will drop out of a volcanic plume after a few hours, fine particles may stay airborne for many days or much longer. These pose a very serious threat to aircraft, as demonstrated by the disruption caused by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, as well as to human health. By detecting and characterising this ash remotely these risks can be greatly reduced.

Ground based UV spectroscopy of ash is particularly interesting for several reasons; the spectrometers used are low cost and very low weight (making them easily and rapidly deployable to changing eruptive activity) and they are already in use at volcano observatories for the measurement of SO2 flux from volcanic vents. My research will involve plenty of work in the field at volcanic sites around the globe, especially Stromboli in Italy, as well as the use of radiative transfer modelling to improve the accuracy of the ash retrieval.

Prior to this PhD I completed my MPhys in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of York. The DTP offers us many excellent opportunities, from bespoke training in specific and transferable skills to exposure to a rich and incredibly varied area of research.