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Abstract submitted for oral presentation at the
EUMETSAT conveference, 8-12 September 2008, Darmstadt.

Monitoring of volcanic SO2 and ash emissions from satellite

Jos van Geffen, Michel Van Roozendael (1)
Walter Di Nicolantonio, Lucia Tampellini (2)
Pieter Valks, Thilo Erbetseder, Klaus Wisskirchen (3)
Ronald van der A (4)
(1) BIRA-IASB, Brussels, Belgium
(2) CGS, Milano, Italy
(3) DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
(4) KNMI, De Bilt, The Netherlands

Volcanic eruptions may eject large amounts of ash (aerosols) and trace gases such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere. These ejecta can have considerable impact on the safety of air traffic and on human health. Ground-based monitoring is carried out at only a limited number of volcanoes: most volcanoes are not monitored on a regular basis, in particular the remotely located volcanoes. Global observations of SO2 and aerosols derived from satellite measurements in near-real time may therefore provide useful complementary information to assess possible impacts of volcanic eruptions on air traffic control and public safety.

The Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS) of Stage II of GSE-PROMOTE focuses on the timely delivery of SO2 data derived from different satellite instruments, such as SCIAMACHY, OMI and GOME-2, as well as a volcanic ash indicator based on SEVIRI data. This will allow for monitoring the occurrence and extension of volcanic eruptions and plumes. Extention of the Service with IR data, from instruments such as IASI and AIRS, and an aerosol indicator will increase the potential of the Service.

On the basis of selection criteria of exceptional SO2 emissions, the Service sends notifications by e-mail to interested parties, with a reference to a dedicated webpage. In the event of an "SO2 event", the location of the SO2 peak value is used to start backward and foreward trajectories on the basis of meteorological data (wind, temperature, pressure, etc.), to facilitate the interpretation of the satellite observations and to provide an indication of the source and of the plume height.

The service is primarily designed to support the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) in their official task to gather information on volcanic clouds. On the basis of this, the VAACs issue advices and alerts to airline and air traffic control organisations on the possible danger of volcanic clouds. Other users interested in the data are local Volcanic Observatories.

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