An Advanced System to Monitor the 3D Structure of Diffuse Volcanic Ash Clouds

Vernier, J., T. D. Fairlie, J. J. Murray, A. Tupper, C. Trepte, D. Winker, J. Pelon, A. Garnier, J. Jumelet, M. J. Pavolonis, A. H. Omar, and K. A. Powell (2013), An Advanced System to Monitor the 3D Structure of Diffuse Volcanic Ash Clouds, J. Appl. Meteor. Climat., 52, 2125-2138, doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-12-0279.1.
Abstract: 

Major disruptions of the aviation system from recent volcanic eruptions have intensified discussions about and increased the international consensus toward improving volcanic ash warnings. Central to making progress is to better discern low volcanic ash loadings and to describe the ash cloud structure more accurately in three-dimensional space and time. Here, dispersed volcanic ash observed by the Cloud– Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) space-based lidar near 20 000–40 000 ft [;(6–13) km] over Australia and New Zealand during June 2011 is studied. This ash event took place 3 weeks after the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle eruption, which disrupted air traffic in much of the Southern Hemisphere. The volcanic ash layers are shown to exhibit color ratios (1064/532 nm) near 0.5, significantly lower than unity, as is observed with ice. Those optical properties are used to develop an ash detection algorithm. A ‘‘trajectory mapping’’ technique is then demonstrated wherein ash cloud observations are ingested into a Lagrangian model and used to construct ash dispersion maps and cross sections. Comparisons of the model results with independent observations suggest that the model successfully reproduces the 3D structure of volcanic ash clouds. This technique has a potential operational application in providing important additional information to worldwide volcanic ash advisory centers.

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Research Program: 
Applied Sciences Program (ASP)