The vertical distribution of volcanic SO2 plumes measured by IASI
Abstract. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is an important atmospheric constituent that plays a crucial role in many atmospheric processes. Volcanic eruptions are a significant source of atmospheric SO2 and its effects and lifetime depend on the SO2 injection altitude. The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) on the METOP satellite can be used to study volcanic emission of SO2 using high-spectral resolution measurements from 1000 to 1200 and from 1300 to 1410 cm−1 (the 7.3 and 8.7 µm SO2 bands) returning both SO2 amount and altitude data. The scheme described in Carboni et al. (2012) has been applied to measure volcanic SO2 amount and altitude for 14 explosive eruptions from 2008 to 2012. The work includes a comparison with the following independent measurements: (i) the SO2 column amounts from the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull plumes have been compared with Brewer ground measurements over Europe; (ii) the SO2 plumes heights, for the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull and 2011 Grimsvötn eruptions, have been compared with CALIPSO backscatter profiles. The results of the comparisons show that IASI SO2 measurements are not affected by underlying cloud and are consistent (within the retrieved errors) with the other measurements. The series of analysed eruptions (2008 to 2012) show that the biggest emitter of volcanic SO2 was Nabro, followed by Kasatochi and Grímsvötn. Our observations also show a tendency for volcanic SO2 to reach the level of the tropopause during many of the moderately explosive eruptions observed. For the eruptions observed, this tendency was independent of the maximum amount of SO2 (e.g. 0.2 Tg for Dalafilla compared with 1.6 Tg for Nabro) and of the volcanic explosive index (between 3 and 5).