Met Office atmospheric survey plane permanently grounded due to cut in funding

MOASA was conceived in 2010 following the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption in Iceland, and has spent more than a decade collecting air pollution data.

It looked like a relatively standard bi-pop plane from the outside, but once inside the cockpit, an array of specialized equipment betrayed its purpose. MOASA – better known to some as the Met Office Atmospheric Survey Aircraft – was one of the UK’s most important tools used to better understand and warn about air quality issues. But, unfortunately, the plane made its last flight in April due to budget cuts.

MOASA was first conceived in response to the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. As plumes of smoke billowed from the Icelandic peak, spreading rapidly across large swaths of Europe, much of continental airspace and that of the United Kingdom were closed for several days. MOASA was created to assess the effect of volcanic ash on aircraft engines and track its spread, but has since done much more in its relatively short lifespan.

For the past 12 years, the nation’s highest-altitude air quality measurement tool has collected data on ongoing and one-off air pollution events, helping experts develop clear and convincing arguments on the need to drastically reduce emissions and pollutants entering the atmosphere. It has played a vital role in providing early warnings of days of dangerously poor air quality, and painted vivid pictures of the relationship between agriculture, transport, industry and the impact of dangerous gases. such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, as well as fine particles like PM2.5.

We recently published about Britain’s most advanced interactive air pollution map, and there’s no shortage of air quality measurement systems and networks. However, the difference here is that aircraft measurements offer a very different insight, revealing what is happening in the troposphere and higher-altitude boundary layers, a key data set for understanding the extent and nature of pollution. atmospheric.