Articles | Volume 11, issue 18
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 9503–9518, 2011

Special issue: Atmospheric implications of the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull,...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 9503–9518, 2011

Research article 16 Sep 2011

Research article | 16 Sep 2011

The Eyjafjöll explosive volcanic eruption from a microwave weather radar perspective

F. S. Marzano1,2, M. Lamantea1, M. Montopoli2,3, S. Di Fabio2,4, and E. Picciotti4 F. S. Marzano et al.
  • 1Department of Information Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  • 2Centre of Excellence CETEMPS, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
  • 3Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of L'Aquila, Italy
  • 4HIMET, L'Aquila, Italy

Abstract. The sub-glacial Eyjafjöll explosive volcanic eruptions of April and May 2010 are analyzed and quantitatively interpreted by using ground-based weather radar data and the Volcanic Ash Radar Retrieval (VARR) technique. The Eyjafjöll eruptions have been continuously monitored by the Keflavík C-band weather radar, located at a distance of about 155 km from the volcano vent. Considering that the Eyjafjöll volcano is approximately 20 km from the Atlantic Ocean and that the northerly winds stretched the plume toward the mainland Europe, weather radars are the only means to provide an estimate of the total ejected tephra. The VARR methodology is summarized and applied to available radar time series to estimate the plume maximum height, ash particle category, ash volume, ash fallout and ash concentration every 5 min near the vent. Estimates of the discharge rate of eruption, based on the retrieved ash plume top height, are provided together with an evaluation of the total erupted mass and volume. Deposited ash at ground is also retrieved from radar data by empirically reconstructing the vertical profile of radar reflectivity and estimating the near-surface ash fallout. Radar-based retrieval results cannot be compared with ground measurements, due to the lack of the latter, but further demonstrate the unique contribution of these remote sensing products to the understating and modelling of explosive volcanic ash eruptions.

Final-revised paper