Volcanic ash plume identification using polarization lidar: Augustine eruption, Alaska



[1] During mid January to early February 2006, a series of explosive eruptions occurred at the Augustine volcanic island off the southern coast of Alaska. By early February a plume of volcanic ash was transported northward into the interior of Alaska. Satellite imagery and Puff volcanic ash transport model predictions confirm that the aerosol plume passed over a polarization lidar (0.694 μm wavelength) site at the Arctic Facility for Atmospheric Remote Sensing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For the first time, lidar linear depolarization ratios of 0.10–0.15 were measured in a fresh tropospheric volcanic plume, demonstrating that the nonspherical glass and mineral particles typical of volcanic eruptions generate strong laser depolarization. Thus, polarization lidars can identify the volcanic ash plumes that pose a threat to jet air traffic from the ground, aircraft, or potentially from Earth orbit.