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New sulphur dioxide monitoring methods – improving volcano and climate monitoring 13 March 2009

Posted by admin in climate, current research, geoscience, natural hazards, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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A press release from the Swedish Research Council reports the work of Matthias Johansson, doctoral student in the Department of Radio and Space Science at Chalmers University in Göteborg, who has developed a system of measuring sulphur dioxide output from volcanoes by aggregating measurements taken from two or more instruments. Much of the work on the project ‘has involved making the equipment sufficiently automatic, robust, and energy-efficient for use in the inhospitable environment surrounding volcanoes, in poor countries with weak infrastructure’. The equipment is currently in use at seventeen locations.

The research also has implications for improved global climate monitoring by providing continuous measurements of the levels of sulphur dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by the world’s most active volcanoes:

‘Sulfur dioxide is converted in the atmosphere to sulfate particles, and these particles need to be factored into climate models if those models are to be accurate’, says Associate Professor Bo Galle, who directed [Johansson’s] dissertation. Volcanoes are an extremely important source of sulfur dioxide. Aetna alone, for instance, releases roughly ten times more sulfur dioxide than all of Sweden does.’

The Chalmers research is part of Project Novac, a European Union funded project to establish networks for the measurements of volcanic gases and aerosols, and apply the data obtained to risk analysis and volcanological research, locally and on a regional and global scale.

UPDATE: I missed Ole Nielsen’s post of yesterday on this, at Olelog – Volcanic Eruption Forecasting.

The Volcanism Blog