The Persistence of Volcanic Ash in the Tropical Stratosphere after the Kelud Eruption
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
An increase of volcanic activity over the past decade is thought to have contributed significantly to the global warming “hiatus”. Thus, it is important to improve our understanding of the microphysical and optical properties of even small volcanic plumes as well as their associated climate impacts. On February 13th, 2014, the Mt Kelud volcano, located near 4°S on the island of Java (Indonesia), injected volcanic gases and ash into the tropical stratosphere. An overpass of the CALIPSO lidar during the active phase of the eruption showed volcanic materials reaching 26 km with the main volcanic cloud near 18-19 km. This is the highest altitude volcanic injection since Mt Pinatubo in 1991. CALIPSO has tracked the dispersion of the Kelud plume throughout the tropical lower stratosphere (~20N-20S) since then. Depolarization lidar measurements (0.3-0.4) indicate that the plume was likely composed of irregularly shaped ash particles during the first few days after the eruption, and that sulfate aerosol (spherical droplets) formed thereafter, gradually lowering the mean depolarization to 0.1-0.2. In May, 2014, we mounted a 2-week campaign to Darwin (Australia) to measure several profiles of backscatter in red and blue channels, and one profile of aerosol size distribution using two optical particle counters, one with an inlet heated to 200°C. The purpose was to characterize particle sizes, optical properties, and sulfate fraction from a relatively fresh volcanic plume in the low stratosphere. Preliminary results from the campaign suggest the persistence of ash particles at the bottom of the Kelud plume 3 months after the eruption. This is significant because the climate impact of ash is neglected in most climate models.