9.3 Volcanic Cloud Identification, Tracking, and Characterization with Next Generation Satellites

Wednesday, 17 August 2016: 2:00 PM
Madison Ballroom CD (Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center)
Michael J. Pavolonis, NOAA/NESDIS, Madison, WI; and J. Sieglaff and J. L. Cintineo

Volcanic ash clouds are a major aviation hazard that can significantly damage aircraft and, in the worst case, cause inflight engine failure. The economic loss associated with volcanic ash related disruptions to air travel is also significant. Billions of dollars alone were lost during a 2010 eruption of an Icelandic volcano. Volcanic cloud applications illustrate the importance of developing sophisticated, scientific, computer algorithms to transform extremely large volumes of environmental data into information needed to help mitigate hazards and increase environmental intelligence. The need for science based computer algorithms has never been greater as data volumes and information content will increase significantly with NOAA's next generation of operational satellites, GOES-R and JPSS. NOAA, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, have developed innovative methods for detecting and characterizing volcanic ash clouds from space, and those satellite products are now used by Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC) in the U.S., Australia, and elsewhere. The products help increase the timeliness and accuracy of volcanic ash advisories, which are used by air traffic controllers to divert aircraft around hazards. An overview of the benefits and challenges associated with identifying, tracking, and characterizing volcanic ash clouds using next generation satellite measurements will be given.
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