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The Vulnerability of the European Air Traffic Network to Spatial Hazards

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sean Wilkinson, Dr Sarah Dunn



The 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjalla volcano had a devastating effect on the European air traffic network (EATN), preventing air travel throughout most of Europe for 6 days (Oroian 2010). The severity of the disruption was surprising as previous research suggests that this type of network should be tolerant to random hazard (Albert et al. 2000; Strogatz 2001). The source of this hazard tolerance lies in the degree distribution of the network which, for many real world networks has been shown to follow a power law (Albert et al. 1999, 2000). In this paper, we demonstrate that the ash cloud was unexpectedly disruptive because it was spatially coherent rather than uniformly random. We analyse the spatial dependence in air traffic networks and demonstrate how, the combination of their geographical distribution and their network architectures jeopardises their inherent hazard tolerance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wilkinson SM, Dunn S, Ma S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Natural Hazards

Year: 2012

Volume: 60

Issue: 3

Pages: 1027-1036

Print publication date: 19/08/2011

Date deposited: 09/03/2012

ISSN (print): 0921-030X

ISSN (electronic): 1573-0840

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s11069-011-9885-6


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