Characterizing the emission height of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from volcanic eruptions yields information about the strength of volcanic activity, and is crucial for the assessment of possible climate impacts and validation of satellite retrievals of SO2. Sensors such as the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the polar-orbiting Aura satellite provide accurate maps of the spatial distribution of volcanic SO2, but provide limited information on its vertical distribution. The goal of this work is to explore the possible use of a trajectory model in reconstructing both the temporal activity and injection altitude of volcanic SO2 from OMI column measurements observed far from the volcano. Using observations from the November 2006 eruption of Nyamuragira, back trajectories are run and statistical analyses are computed based on the distance of closest approach to the volcano. These statistical analyses provide information about the emission height time series of SO2 injection from that eruption. It is found that the eruption begins first injecting SO2 into the upper troposphere, between 13 km and 17 km, on November 28th 2006. This is then followed by a slow decay in injection altitude, down to 6 km, over subsequent days. The emission height profile is used to generate an optimal reconstruction based on forward trajectories and compared to OMI SO2 observations. The inferred altitude of the Nyamuragira SO2cloud is also compared to the altitude of sulfate aerosols detected in aerosol backscatter vertical profiles from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument aboard the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO).
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