Remote sensing and inverse transport modeling of the Kasatochi eruption sulfur dioxide cloud

N. I. Kristiansen, A. Stohl, A. J. Prata, A. Richter, S. Eckhardt, P. Seibert, A. Hoffmann, C. Ritter, L. Bitar, T. J. Duck, and K. Stebel, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, D00L13, doi: 10.1029/2009JD013650, 2010.

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Abstract. An analytical inversion method is used to estimate the vertical profile of SO2 emissions from the major eruption of Kasatochi volcano in Alaska in August 2008. The method uses satellite observed total SO2 columns from GOME- 2, OMI and AIRS during the first two days after the eruption, and an atmospheric transport model, FLEXPART, to calculate the vertical emission profile. The inversion yields an emission profile with two large emission maxima near 7 km above sea level (a.s.l) and around 12 km a.s.l, with smaller emissions up to 20 km. The total mass of SO2 injected into the atmosphere by the eruption was estimated to 1.7 Tg, with ~1 Tg reaching the stratosphere (>10 km). The estimated vertical emission profile was robust against changes of the assumed eruption time, meteorological input data and satellite data used. Using the vertical emission profile, a simulation of the transport extending for one month after the eruption is performed. The simulated plume agrees very well with SO2 columns observed by GOME-2, OMI and AIRS until 6 days after the eruption, and the altitudes agree with both CALIPSO measurements and ground-based lidar observations to within 1 km. The method is computationally very fast. It is therefore suitable for implementation within an operational environment, such as the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs), to predict the threat posed by volcanic emissions for air traffic.

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