An alert system for volcanic SO2 emissions using satellite measurements

Jos van Geffen, Michel Van Roozendael, Jeroen van Gent, Pieter Valks, Meike Rix, Ronald van der A, Pierre Coheur, Lieven Clarisse, Cathy Clerbaux
in: Proceedings of the 2009 EUMETSAT Meteorological Satellite Conference
21--25 September 2009, Bath, England, EUMETSAT publication P.55.


Satellite measurements of sulphur dioxide (SO2) concentrations are used to set up an automated service which issues notifications by e-mail in case of exceptional SO2 concentrations. Such SO2 events could signify volcanic activity, as SO2 is one of the major trace gases released during volcanic eruptions. Most eruptions also release ash and in that case SO2 can serve as a marker for the presence of volcanic ash. Volcanic ash, when transported high up in the troposphere, poses a great hazard to aviation: aircraft flying through a volcanic ash cloud may suffer major damage, including engine failure. The SO2 alert service named the Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS) thus provides information to the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs), whose official task is to gather information regarding volcanic ash clouds and to assess the possible hazard to aviation. Other users of SACS are volcanological observatories, health care organisations, scientists, etc. Currently SACS uses measurements of the SCIAMACHY, GOME-2 and OMI instruments for SO2 data. This will be extended with an Absorbing Aerosol Index (AAI) from these instruments, as well as SO2 data and an aerosol flag from the IASI instrument. Maps, data and product information can be found at the SACS website:


   A hazardous encounter
   Volcanic eruptions: hazards to aviation
   The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres
   The Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS)
      Current SACS data products and alert service
      Planned extention of the SACS data products
      Elevation and extention of the volcanic plume
   Concluding remarks

PDF file of the paper (8 pages; 869 kB)

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created: 9 October 2009
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