Exploring the Utility of IASI for Monitoring Volcanic SO2 Emissions

Isabelle A. Taylor, James Preston, Elisa Carboni, Tamsin A. Mather, Roy G. Grainger, Nicolas Theys, Silvana Hidalgo, Brendan McCormick Kilbride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Satellite remote sensing is a valuable method for detecting and quantifying sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at volcanoes. The use of ultraviolet satellite instruments for monitoring purposes has been assessed in numerous studies, but there are advantages to using infrared measurements, including that they can operate at night and during high-latitude winters. This study focuses on the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI). Retrievals developed for this instrument have been shown to be successful when applied to large eruptions, but little has been done to explore their potential for detecting and quantifying emissions from smaller and lower altitude emissions or for the assessment of ongoing activity. Here a “fast” linear retrieval has been applied across the globe to detect volcanic sources of SO2. The results are dominated by emissions from explosive eruptions, but signals are also evident from weak eruptions, passive degassing, and anthropogenic activity. Ecuador and Kamchatka were selected for further study with a more processing intensive iterative retrieval which can quantify the SO2 amount. At Tungurahua in Ecuador, good agreement was seen between IASI, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and ground-based flux data, demonstrating that the retrieval is capable of capturing relative changes in activity. Similarly, good agreement was found between IASI and OMI in Kamchatka. In this high-latitude region, OMI is unable to operate for 3 or 4 months in each year. It is therefore suggested that IASI could be used alongside other instruments for evaluating changes in volcanic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5588-5606
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number10
Early online date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • IASI
  • satellite observation
  • SO
  • thermal infrared spectra
  • volcanic emissions


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the Utility of IASI for Monitoring Volcanic SO2 Emissions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this