Articles | Volume 9, issue 7
Research article
15 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 15 Jul 2016

Real time retrieval of volcanic cloud particles and SO2 by satellite using an improved simplified approach

Sergio Pugnaghi, Lorenzo Guerrieri, Stefano Corradini, and Luca Merucci

Abstract. Volcanic plume removal (VPR) is a procedure developed to retrieve the ash optical depth, effective radius and mass, and sulfur dioxide mass contained in a volcanic cloud from the thermal radiance at 8.7, 11, and 12 µm. It is based on an estimation of a virtual image representing what the sensor would have seen in a multispectral thermal image if the volcanic cloud were not present. Ash and sulfur dioxide were retrieved by the first version of the VPR using a very simple atmospheric model that ignored the layer above the volcanic cloud. This new version takes into account the layer of atmosphere above the cloud as well as thermal radiance scattering along the line of sight of the sensor. In addition to improved results, the new version also offers an easier and faster preliminary preparation and includes other types of volcanic particles (andesite, obsidian, pumice, ice crystals, and water droplets). As in the previous version, a set of parameters regarding the volcanic area, particle types, and sensor is required to run the procedure. However, in the new version, only the mean plume temperature is required as input data. In this work, a set of parameters to compute the volcanic cloud transmittance in the three quoted bands, for all the aforementioned particles, for both Mt. Etna (Italy) and Eyjafjallajökull (Iceland) volcanoes, and for the Terra and Aqua MODIS instruments is presented. Three types of tests are carried out to verify the results of the improved VPR. The first uses all the radiative transfer simulations performed to estimate the above mentioned parameters. The second one makes use of two synthetic images, one for Mt. Etna and one for Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. The third one compares VPR and Look-Up Table (LUT) retrievals analyzing the true image of Eyjafjallajökull volcano acquired by MODIS aboard the Aqua satellite on 11 May 2010 at 14:05 GMT.