STAR's Data Products Used to Monitor Icelandic Volcanic Ash Clouds
19 April 2010 - As illustrated by the billion dollar air travel shutdown over Northern Europe caused by Eyjafjallajokull's ongoing eruption, volcanic ash clouds severely impact aviation. In support of NOAA's mission goal to provide accurate, timely, and integrated weather information to meet air and surface transportation needs, STAR scientists have been studying volcanic ash clouds and developing satellite based ash products for over 15 years. Most recently, NOAA/NESDIS/STAR scientists, in collaboration with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Studies (CIMSS), have developed satellite products aimed at automatically detecting volcanic ash clouds and determining their height and micro-physical properties. The STAR volcanic ash algorithm is unique in that it is fully automated and provides information on ash cloud height. Physical properties, such as ash cloud height and microphysics, are critical for forecasting the dispersion of ash clouds.
Volcanic ash products developed for the next generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R) can be generated using measurements from EUMETSAT's (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) Spinning Enhanced Visible/Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) and NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), both of which provide coverage of the Eyjafjallajokull ash clouds. Throughout the ongoing eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, STAR has used SEVIRI and MODIS to generate volcanic ash products.