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Ph.D. defence in Environment and Natural Resources - Uta Reichardt

Fri, 04/05/2018 - 13:30 to 15:00



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Will be held in English
Everybody welcome

Ph.D. student: Uta Reichardt

Dissertation title: Ash and Aviation in Europe: A Stakeholder Analysis of Preparedness for Volcanic Ash from Iceland.

Opponents: Dr. Ortwin Renn, Professor and Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany.

Dr. Karl Benediktsson, Professor at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland.

Advisors: Dr. Gudmundur F. Ulfarsson, Professor and Head of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Dr. Guðrún Pétursdóttir, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Sustainability Studies, University of Iceland.

Doctoral committee: Dr. Jeroen Aerts, Professor, Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies and Head of the Department for Water and Climate Risk, Vrije University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Rajesh Rupakhety, Professor and Vice Head of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iceland.

Abstract: International aviation guidelines suggest complete avoidance of ash-contaminated airspace due to its hazardous impact on aircrafts and jet engines. In 2010, however, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano memorably demonstrated the limits of this precautionary approach: Forecasted volcanic ash in one of the most densely populated airspaces in the world caused unprecedented economic and societal impacts. It forced the European aviation community to perform a paradigm shift virtually overnight in an attempt to mitigate the damage.

While the global air traffic volume is increasing, so too is, according to latest research, the volcanic activity in Iceland. This research examines the current level of preparedness of the European aviation network for a larger volcanic eruption and introduces practical measures to improve risk management.

The network comprises global, international and national regulators, crisis coordination and network managers, providers of information on weather and ash, and air navigation service providers and aircraft operators. The stakeholder performance is analyzed on both an individual and group level and demonstrates how risk management has improved since 2010.

To test the network’s procedures in light of a larger volcanic eruption, two extreme scenarios of volcanic ash eruptions were developed and explored with the stakeholders. To strengthen risk management and societal resilience to such events, the research formulates improvement measures relating to contingency planning, improved exercises, staffing, communication, research funding and regulatory alignment. The study stresses the need to expand the network to other modes of transportation, to help develop an alternative to air transportation, when airplanes are grounded for a prolonged time due to volcanic ash in the airspace.


About the Ph.D. student: Uta Reichardt (b. 1986) studied Geography and Latin American Studies at Dresden Technical University, Germany, from 2005 to 2008. She completed her BA in Geography at the University of Bern in Switzerland in 2009. In 2012 she graduated with a M.Sc. in Risk Analysis at King's College London, UK. She started her Ph.D. studies in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland in 2014. From 2015 to 2016 she completed the foundation program at the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts. In 2017, she conducted a four-month research exchange at Kyoto University, Japan. During her research Uta received support from the FP7 project ENHANCE, the ISAVIA research fund at the University of Iceland, the NORDRESS center of excellence at the University of Iceland, and from the Watanabe Fund at the University of Iceland.

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Uta Reichardt

Ph.D. defence in Environment and Natural Resources - Uta Reichardt