Sulphur dioxide as a volcanic ash proxy during the April–May 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland

Helen Thomas, Alfredo Prata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

74 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The volcanic ash cloud from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
volcano in April and May 2010 resulted in unprecedented
disruption to air traffic in Western Europe causing
significant financial losses and highlighting the importance
of efficient volcanic cloud monitoring. The feasibility
of using SO2 as a tracer for the ash released during the
eruption is investigated here through comparison of ash retrievals
from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager
(SEVIRI) with SO2 measurements from a number of infrared
and ultraviolet satellite-based sensors. Results demonstrate
that the eruption can be divided into an initial ashrich
phase, a lower intensity middle phase and a final phase
where considerably greater quantities both ash and SO2 were
released. Comparisons of ash-SO2 dispersion indicate that
despite frequent collocation of the two species, there are a
number of instances throughout the eruption where separation
is observed. This separation occurs vertically due to the
more rapid settling rate of ash compared to SO2, horizontally
through wind shear and temporally through volcanological
controls on eruption style. The potential for the two species
to be dispersed independently has consequences in terms of
aircraft hazard mitigation and highlights the importance of
monitoring both species concurrently.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6871-6880
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2011

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