Observations of volcanic emissions from space: Current and future perspectives

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Volcanoes worldwide pose a major threat to humans at both local and global scales. The effective monitoring of volcanoes is essential to manage and reduce risk associated with the threat that they pose. The measurement of volcanic cloud composition can provide important clues to the underlying volcanic processes and can be indicative of impending eruption. Hazards posed by plumes to humans and animals are significant, as well as the potential climatic impacts and the threat to aircraft by the ingestion of volcanic ash all justify careful monitoring. Recent advances in instrument technology have allowed for high resolution monitoring of volcanic clouds from satellite-based instruments. There exists a suite of instruments with varying spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions, which when used in conjunction can provide detailed information about cloud properties. Such instruments have the capability to quantify sulphur dioxide, ash and aerosol content as well as the spatial and vertical distribution of species. Here we present an overview of the range of instruments useful for such monitoring, outline their functionality and describe the potential of future missions.

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Natural Hazards