Dr Claire Witham
Atmospheric Dispersion Scientist
Claire currently works for the UK Met Office and is responsible for supporting the London VAAC in volcanic plume dispersion modelling. Claire Witham's research interests focus on the direct health hazards of volcanic gases and aerosols, and how these species are dispersed and deposited. She has compiled, in collaboration with other members of IVHHN, the information and guidelines on hazardous volcanic gases available on this website and conducted fieldwork to assess contemporaneous hazards. She is also interested in the historical impacts of eruptions, in particular their emissions, and has investigated the relation between the Laki Craters eruption and increased English mortality.
The ash-leachate sampling technique recommended on this website has stemmed from Claire's investigation into the removal of hazardous plume species by adsorption onto ash. Species deposited by this process can pose a serious hazard to the environment, livestock and drinking water supplies, and more work is needed to understand the mechanisms involved.
Claire has just joined the UK Met Office and is now responsible for supporting the London VAAC in volcanic plume dispersion modelling. In addition, she is working on improving general air quality forecasts and a long-term research goal is to include volcanic emissions and their chemistry in these models.
Witham, C.S., Hort, M.C., Potts, R., Servranckx, R., Husson, P., and Bonnardot, F. 2007. Comparison of VAAC atmospheric dispersion models using the 1 November 2004 Grimsvotn eruption, Meteorological Applications, 14, 27-38.
Witham, C. and Manning, A. 2007. Impacts of Russian biomass burning on UK air quality, Atmospheric Environment, 41(37), 8075-8090.
Witham, C. 2005. Volcanic disasters and incidents: a new database, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 148, 191-233.
Witham, C. S. and Oppenheimer, C., 2005, Mortality in England during the 1783-4 Laki Craters eruption. Bulletin of Volcanology. 67,15-26. doi: 10.1007/s00445-004-0357-7
Download our pamphlets on preparing for ashfall and on the health hazards of ash. They are designed for mass distribution at the onset of new eruptions. They are now avaiable in English, Japanese, French Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Indonesian and Icelandic with Italian versions being available shortly. Please see our Pamphlets page for further infomation.