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KVERT to cease operations as Russian government cuts funding 27 January 2010

Posted by admin in Kamchatka, Russia.
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The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) monitors the highly active volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian far east. Many international air routes pass through airspace potentially affected by volcanic eruptions on Kamchatka, and there is a very high risk of flight disruption, and even of accidents and loss of life, if volcanic activity in this region is not properly monitored.

But the Russian government does not care about that. The following announcement came through this evening via the VOLCANO mailing list:

Due to a loss of government funding beginning February 01, 2010, KVERT will no longer
distribute information regarding volcanic activity in Kamchatka and the Northern Kuriles.
Specifically, the following KVERT services are suspended:
– Assignment of Aviation Color Codes;
– Sending:
– email operational messages from IVS FED RAS and KB GS RAS;
– daily activity report in English from KB GS RAS (table format);
– KVERT Information Releases about current activity and forecasts activity of
volcanoes of Kamchatka and Northern Kuriles from IVS FED RAS
to all users including Tokyo VAAC, Anchorage VAAC, and Washington VAAC, and airlines

In addition, KVERT will no longer maintain its public web site with volcano information.
Access to the following information will cease:
– KVERT information releases
– Volcanic danger prognosis for aviation for next week (in Russian)
– Current Activity of the Volcanoes
– MODIS and NOAA satellite images
– Weekly information on current eruptions on the IVS website

This is dreadful, shameful news. The Kamchatka volcanoes cannot be left unmonitored: either the Russian government must be pressured to reconsider (and Moscow does not normally respond very well to such external pressure) or some kind of international arrangement will have to be made through which either KVERT funding can be continued or another country will have to step in, if that is possible.

UPDATE. This has happened before. Funding for KVERT was last cut in 2007: an AVO news release from March 2007 can be found here. KVERT was offline from 1 March to 9 April that year. Funding also broke down for KVERT in 1994.

ANOTHER UPDATE. Dr Erik Klemetti weighs in at Eruptions, with all the detail about why this is such a bad idea: Russia nixes Kamchatka and Kuril Island volcano monitoring.

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Chance Metz - 27 January 2010

The more pressure the better. This is just a bad idea all around. For years they have been taking funding away form KVERt so we all knew this day was coming but we can not just sit around and let them do it without speaking up. If they won’t do it and will not listen maybe the USGS can monior the area instead? It should not have to come to that though.

2. Damon Hynes - 28 January 2010

I think there’s more to the story. How many Russian planes fly in this corridor? Very few when compared to western carriers. So Russia is expending resources to protect the aircraft of their more-often-than-not opponents? One can make the case that this is a form of nose-thumbing at the west. I find it hard to believe that *all* research and monitoring, the activities geared toward protecting Russian resources and population, will end.

3. Chance Metz - 28 January 2010

Maybe you are right but there are very few people up there and half of the year it is cold and snowy. Russia is not a country you can trust so you never know what they are really doing. I still think that they are not going to watch it anymore becuase they want someone else to do it for them or they just figure no one will care.

4. admin - 28 January 2010

KVERT’s funding has always been precarious. The organization has folded for lack of money before, but has always come back again – I expect that will happen this time as well, sooner or later. It’s hard to say whether there is some kind of hidden agenda here or whether it is just the ramshackle way the Russians run things. It’s highly irresponsible, however you look at it.

It’ll be left to the Japanese and (as ever) the United States to compensate for the information that previously came from KVERT. However, the reality is that there is relatively little that other countries can do to fill the gap left by KVERT, because they do not have access to instruments and facilities on the ground in Kamchatka.

5. Beano - 28 January 2010

Could it be that insurance companies who are taking out the risk policies for the airlines who pass through through this area will need to sponsor KVERT or possibly form a Russian private company to carry out the activities KVERT functioned?

6. Chance Metz - 28 January 2010

Someone will have to do it it can not just be left unmointored.

7. R. B. Trombley - 30 January 2010

This is a very shameful and bad news for the aviation industry and the volcano monitoring regimes. As usual the Russians simply do not care about the rest of the world and the possible impact (danger even) of aircraft flying thru potentially dangerous area. I agree with all that something must be done to try to convince the Russian government to continue funding KVERT – a most important volcano monitoring site.

8. Chance Metz - 31 January 2010

And if they are too boneheaded to do so then we do it for them.


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