Observing Volcanic Thermal Anomalies from Space: How Accurate is the Estimation of the Hotspot's Size and Temperature?

Friday, 18 December 2015: 17:30
309 (Moscone South)
Leonie Pick1, Klemen Zaksek1, Valerio Lombardo2 and Matthias KG Hort3, (1)University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, (2)National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Rome, Italy, (3)ZMAW Center for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Hamburg, Germany
Measuring the heat emission from active volcanic features on the basis of infrared satellite images contributes to the volcano's hazard assessment. Because these thermal anomalies only occupy a small fraction (< 1 %) of a typically resolved target pixel (e.g. from Landsat 7, MODIS) the accurate determination of the hotspot's size and temperature is however problematic. Conventionally this is overcome by comparing observations in at least two separate infrared spectral wavebands (Dual-Band method). We investigate the resolution limits of this thermal un-mixing technique by means of a uniquely designed indoor analog experiment. Therein the volcanic feature is simulated by an electrical heating alloy of 0.5 mm diameter installed on a plywood panel of high emissivity. Two thermographic cameras (VarioCam high resolution and ImageIR 8300 by Infratec) record images of the artificial heat source in wavebands comparable to those available from satellite data. These range from the short-wave infrared (1.4–3 µm) over the mid-wave infrared (3–8 µm) to the thermal infrared (8–15 µm). In the conducted experiment the pixel fraction of the hotspot was successively reduced by increasing the camera-to-target distance from 3 m to 35 m. On the basis of an individual target pixel the expected decrease of the hotspot pixel area with distance at a relatively constant wire temperature of around 600 °C was confirmed. The deviation of the hotspot's pixel fraction yielded by the Dual-Band method from the theoretically calculated one was found to be within 20 % up until a target distance of 25 m. This means that a reliable estimation of the hotspot size is only possible if the hotspot is larger than about 3 % of the pixel area, a resolution boundary most remotely sensed volcanic hotspots fall below. Future efforts will focus on the investigation of a resolution limit for the hotspot's temperature by varying the alloy's amperage. Moreover, the un-mixing results for more realistic multi-component target pixel consisting of more than two thermally distinct features should be analyzed.