Assessment of the UV camera sulfur dioxide retrieval for point source plumes

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Digital cameras, sensitive to specific regions of the ultra-violet (UV) spectrum, have been employed for quantifying sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in recent years. The instruments make use of the selective absorption of UV light by SO2 molecules to determine pathlength concentration. Many monitoring advantages are gained by using this technique, but the accuracy and limitations have not been thoroughly investigated. The effect of some user-controlled parameters, including image exposure duration, the diameter of the lens aperture, the frequency of calibration cell imaging, and the use of the single or paired bandpass filters, have not yet been addressed. In order to clarify methodological consequences and quantify accuracy, laboratory and field experiments were conducted. Images were collected of calibration cells under varying observational conditions, and our conclusions provide guidance for enhanced image collection. Results indicate that the calibration cell response is reliably linear below 1500 ppm m, but that the response is significantly affected by changing light conditions. Exposure durations that produced maximum image digital numbers above 32 500 counts can reduce noise in plume images. Sulfur dioxide retrieval results from a coal-fired power plant plume were compared to direct sampling measurements and the results indicate that the accuracy of the UV camera retrieval method is within the range of current spectrometric methods. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research