NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research banner

STAR's Data Products Used to Monitor Icelandic Volcanic Ash Clouds

NASA Image - Iceland Volcano Ash Plume - 4-17-2010

Ash plume from Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, Iceland
17 April 2010 (NASA)

CIMSS image - False Color illustration of volcanic ash over Northern Europe - April 16, 2010

Volcanic Ash over Northern Europe, 16 April 2010
The linked animation shows the ash cloud as it moves from north to central Europe on April 16, 2010.
Image produced by CIMSS using SEVIRI data

quicktime movie: 6 day time elapse animation of volcanic ash data model

6 Day Time Lapse of Volcanic Ash Product Images

NNVL Image - Iceland Volcanic Plume - April 19, 2010

Iceland Volcanic Plume - April 19, 2010
NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

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.

STAR's Contribution
to our Understanding of this Event:

The volcanic ash products recently developed by NOAA/NESDIS/STAR are not yet operationally available, but official efforts are underway to transition these capabilities to NESDIS operations. In the meantime, these results are being shared with the international volcanic ash research and user community through a discussion forum. In addition, these results will be used in post-event studies aimed at assessing the accuracy of dispersion model forecasts and remote sensing techniques.

CIMSS produced a SEVIRI (EUMETSAT's geostationary satellite imaging instrument) animation of the ash cloud as it moved through northern and central Europe on April 16. (see image and animation at right).

Thanks to Mike Pavolonis at ASPB / CIMSS

photo: Mike Pavolonis, ASPB/CIMSSThe animation above and the explanation of STAR's work with volcanic ash products both come from Mike Pavolonis, a physical scientist with STAR at the Advanced Satellite Products Branch (ASPB), collocated with the CIMSS in Madison, WI. Mike was also interviewed for NPR's recent story: "Tracking Volcano Ash To Improve Flight Safety" (22 April 2010). STAR thanks Mike for his assistance with this story.

See More Volcano Imagery from CIMSS: