Natural Hazards

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 325–343

Tracking volcanic sulfur dioxide clouds for aviation hazard mitigation

  • Simon A. Carn
  • Arlin J. Krueger
  • Nickolay A. Krotkov
  • Kai Yang
  • Keith Evans
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11069-008-9228-4

Cite this article as:
Carn, S.A., Krueger, A.J., Krotkov, N.A. et al. Nat Hazards (2009) 51: 325. doi:10.1007/s11069-008-9228-4

Abstract

Satellite measurements of volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions can provide critical information for aviation hazard mitigation, particularly when ash detection techniques fail. Recent developments in space-based SO2 monitoring are discussed, focusing on daily, global ultraviolet (UV) measurements by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. OMI’s high sensitivity to SO2 permits long-range tracking of volcanic clouds in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) and accurate mapping of their perimeters to facilitate avoidance. Examples from 2006 to 2007 include eruptions of Soufriere Hills (Montserrat), Rabaul (Papua New Guinea), Nyamuragira (DR Congo), and Jebel at Tair (Yemen). A tendency for some volcanic clouds to occupy the jet stream suggests an increased threat to aircraft that exploit this phenomenon. Synergy between NASA A-Train sensors such as OMI and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the Aqua satellite can provide critical information on volcanic cloud altitude. OMI and AIRS SO2 data products are being produced in near real-time for distribution to Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) via a NOAA website. Operational issues arising from these improved SO2 measurements include the reliability of SO2 as proxy for co-erupted ash, the duration of VAAC advisories for long-lived volcanic clouds, and the potential effects of elevated concentrations of SO2 and sulfate aerosol in ash-poor clouds on aircraft and avionics (including cumulative effects after multiple inadvertent transits through dilute clouds). Further research is required in these areas. Aviation community assistance is sought through continued reporting of sulfurous odors or other indications of diffuse volcanic cloud encounters, in order to validate the satellite retrievals.

Keywords

Sulfur dioxide Volcanic clouds Aviation hazards Ultraviolet remote sensing 

Abbreviations

AI

Aerosol Index

AIRS

Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

AVHRR

Advanced very high resolution radiometer

CALIOP

Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization

CALIPSO

Cloud-aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation

CCD

Charge-coupled device

CNMI

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

COSPEC

Correlation spectroscopy

DOAS

Differential optical absorption spectroscopy

EP

Earth Probe

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

GOME

Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment

HYSPLIT

Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory

IASI

Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer

IR

Infrared

LT

Local time

MLS

Microwave Limb Sounder

MODIS

Moderate Resolution Infrared Spectroradiometer

N7

Nimbus-7

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NRT

Near real time

OMI

Ozone Monitoring Instrument

PBL

Planetary boundary layer

PNG

Papua New Guinea

SCIAMACHY

Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer For Atmospheric Cartography

TES

Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer

TOMS

Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer

UT

Universal time

UTLS

Upper troposphere and lower stratosphere

UV

Ultraviolet

VAAC

Volcanic Ash Advisory Center

VCD

Vertical column density

VEI

Volcanic Explosivity Index

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon A. Carn
    • 1
  • Arlin J. Krueger
    • 1
  • Nickolay A. Krotkov
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kai Yang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Keith Evans
    • 1
  1. 1.Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET)University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)BaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology (GEST) CenterUMBCBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 613.3NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA

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