Satellite Composite Shows Chilean Volcano Plume Spreading Globally

Three different satellite image flyovers were combined from NASA's Aqua satellite to show the journey of the volcanic ash from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano as it traveled across the southern Pacific Ocean, past New Zealand (at left), on June 14, 2011. Credit: NASA Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response, Jeff Schmaltz - click to enlarge

Since its eruption in early June, several NASA satellites have captured images of the ash plume from the eruption of the Chilean Volcano called Puyehue-Cordón Caulle and have tracked it around the world. NASA has collected them in the NASA Goddard FLICKR image gallery that shows the progression of the plume around the southern hemisphere.

The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex includes the Puyehue volcano, the Cordón Caulle rift zone and the Cordillera Nevada caldera.

One of the instruments that provided daily imagery of the ash plume is called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that flies on both NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. Other satellites have provided images and animations of the plume such as the GOES-11 satellite, which is operated by NOAA and whose images and animations are created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The new NASA Goddard FLICKR image gallery contains a series of MODIS images from the day the Puyehue volcano erupted on June 4 to June 14.The images are shown in date order in the gallery and show the ash plume circling the southern hemisphere.

The image gallery focuses on the data from the MODIS instrument on Aqua and Terra to provide continuity and ease of identification of the ash plume. The plume can appear differently to other NASA satellites that look at the atmosphere using other parts of the spectrum other than visible and infrared light.

The gallery begins on June 4, 2011 when a fissure opened in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex. The MODIS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a natural-color image that showed the ash 45,000 feet (14,000 meters) high. As the plume shot up and blew southeast toward Argentina, heavier particles fell to the ground. According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the border town of Bariloc, Argentina reported as much as a foot (30 centimeters) of ash on the ground.

In addition to large amounts of ash on the ground in Chile and Argentina, rainfall poses another problem. Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service noted that rainfall on loose ash could trigger landslides and lahars, especially in the Andes Mountains where river valleys are clogged with ash.

According to Agence France-Presse, air travel from South America to Australia has been adversely affected. NASA confirmed the ash locations in satellite imagery over New Zealand, South Africa, and Tasmania this week.

On June 10, Aqua’s MODIS showed winds pushed the plume east and northeast over Argentina. The next day, winds twisted the ash plume like a pretzel over Argentina. By June 12, Terra’s MODIS instrument saw the volcano’s ash plume blowing over the southwestern tip of South Africa on its way around the world, while Aqua’s MODIS captured an image of the volcano that showed its plume being drawn into a low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean.

The next day, June 13, NASA’s Aqua satellite provided an image of the light brown ash plume crossing over New Zealand and Tasmania. Tasmania is an Australian island and state located 150 miles south of Australia. Later in the day Aqua’s MODIS instrument showed the ash plume pouring out of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano and traveling east and northeast. The height of the plume varied during the day with the intensity of the eruption. Plumes were measured between 2.5 and 5 miles (4 and 8 kilometers) high at different times of the day.

On June 14, NASA satellite imagery from three different overpasses was pieced together by Jeff Schmaltz of the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA Goddard. NASA’s Aqua satellite overpasses created a mosaic of the volcanic ash plume traversing the South Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, MODIS on the Terra satellite captured another look at what was happening at the volcano. At 15:15 UTC (11:15 a.m. EDT), winds continued pushing the plume east and southeast into the Southern Atlantic Ocean. The ash plume was reaching as high as five miles (8 kilometers) into the atmosphere.

As air traffic continues to be affected in Chile, Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and even Australia, the news from Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service was that a possible return to increased eruption activity.

NASA continues to generate daily images of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s plume over Chile and the rest of the southern hemisphere. NASA’s Earth Observatory, housed at NASA Goddard, posts new images of volcanic eruptions at their Natural Hazards web page:

For NASA Goddard FLICKR Gallery of images of Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano eruption from June 4 to June 14, 2011:

Rob Gutro

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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Andy G55
June 15, 2011 7:08 pm

The plume has been causing a few issues with air travel down here. Travel routes to and from Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania have all been affected. Virgin is still flying by keeping flights below the plume, but Qantas and JetStar are reluctant to take the risk because we don’t really have the measurement apparatus down here to be absolutely sure how safe it is even below the plume.
I hope it doesn’t drift north too far, I’m meant to fly from Newy to Brisban next week.

June 15, 2011 7:21 pm

Just thinking; is there any correlation between Solar minimums and volcanic eruptions?

Jenn Oates
June 15, 2011 7:22 pm

My son and his bride are in Chile on their honeymoon…greaaat.

June 15, 2011 7:32 pm

Dear Earth;
We have already done the volcano cooling experiment with Mt. Pinatubo. We were hoping to be able to do a different experiment this time, one where the Sun contained the variable that might cause cooling.
If possible could you please refrain from further geomorphologic activity until we have collected the data from the solar experiment? It has taken us over 180 years to set up this experiment and your insistence on adding more variables will complicate our analysis.
We understand your need for attention and rest assured we have not forgotten about you. We are watching your poles, your water and all the jumping about that you do like to do from time to time, but for now could you just lighten up on the surface volcanoes.
Your cooperation is appreciated.
Thank You

June 15, 2011 7:38 pm

New Zealand is having an :on/again off/again” air service at the moment because of the ash – particularly in the more southerly places of Christchurch (as if they needed more), Dunedin and Invercargill.
Flights have resumed now after being cancelled earlier in the day.

June 15, 2011 7:47 pm

An edit to my 7:21pm question; is there a correlation between Solar and volcanic activity/inactivity?

June 15, 2011 8:12 pm

It’s way up there, above the Tropopause. Traveling E to W. Way above the Jet.

June 15, 2011 8:14 pm

Sorry, I am mistaken. It is traveling with the jet. It’s nearly circumnavigated at the Roaring 40s.

June 15, 2011 8:26 pm

Sigh, I can just see it now……… the earth isn’t warming because of the volcano…….. as if they didn’t realize volcanoes erupt often in the real world. Hansen uses aerosols as an excuse to why his models are wrong.

June 15, 2011 9:02 pm

so what is the comparison between this and Pinatubo? is there some site that tells us? i mean between this one and the Ethiopian one are we going to see 2 times as much SO2 in the atmosphere as with Pinatubo?

Keith Minto
June 15, 2011 9:35 pm

Forgive the ‘model’, but here is a jet stream animation. My wife is due back in Brisbane from Canberra on the weekend, so I am following this closely.

Keith Minto
June 15, 2011 9:51 pm

Also, select 6hourly and 4days, then ‘build animation’ to get a better feel for the jet stream movement.
Scroll to the bottom of the Darwin VAAC report here for the circumpolar ash flow.

June 15, 2011 10:00 pm

This volcano barely makes the news in Europe, and the one in Eritrea that is causing disruption in North Africa and Middle Eastern airspace is not even on the radar.
Wonder how much CO2 offset is being replaced by these – undoubtedly Anthropomorphic activities?

June 15, 2011 10:03 pm

markinaustin says:
” i mean between this one and the Ethiopian one are we going to see 2 times as much SO2 in the atmosphere as with Pinatubo?”
Not likely. Pinatubo was VEI 5 or 6. Eyjafjallajökull, Grimsvotn, Merapi, Kizimen, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Yasur, Sakura-jima, Tengger and others have all been going off within the last year and a half.. together I don’t think they even come to a quarter of Pinatubo’s eruptive content.
There was a late SO2 bloom over Grimsvotn AFTER the eruption was over… not really sure what that was all about. The late bloom was likely purely tropospheric and not up int the stratosphere. Grimsvotin had a solid stratospheric eruption when it went, but it was short lived, and I’m not sure how polar cell SO2 affects things.

June 15, 2011 11:16 pm

It certainly would be helpful if someone set up a scale for volcanos somewhat like the Richter scale for earthquakes as to how impactful they are to global climate and easily communicated. Say Pinatubo as a 5.0. . . .what’s this one?

June 15, 2011 11:40 pm
And the speculation runs rampant. Well, at least it’s sterile, unlike some oh-noes mentioned in the above link.

June 15, 2011 11:51 pm

Hmmm…. we have the Ethiopean and Chilean volcanic eruptions that will gradually
blanket the Southern Hemisphere; the Kamchatka, Russia and another in Iceland to
dust the atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere,
These should give us all pretty sun and moon rises and sets over the next month.
Will the dust particles attact aerosols, including wator vapor? If so, then will this
cause the promotion of of more cloud formation, which blocks the sun from hitting
both the earth and oceans which in turn lowers the global temperatures ?
Do the two sunspots currently facing Earth (SSN count = 48)
indicate an upward trend in spots, or a plateau or a decline in spot counts for
whatever remains of the current cycle ?
Now we have something to see.
Investing in long johns and popcorn seems prudent at this point.

June 15, 2011 11:53 pm

I looked at the flikr images and was impressed by the separation between the ash clouds and the rain clouds. Is the ash acting as cloud condensation nuclei?

Patrick Davis
June 16, 2011 12:00 am

Given the effect the Chilean and Eritrean volcanos are having on air travel, Emirates have managed to maintain flights to Australia, albeit 1 day late for family. Thumbs up to Emirates.

Mike Borgelt
June 16, 2011 1:32 am

Andy G55 says:
June 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm
“Qantas and JetStar are reluctant to take the risk because we don’t really have the measurement apparatus down here to be absolutely sure how safe it is even below the plume.”
What a pity we aren’t measuring the plume. Sitting in a hangar at Parafield Airport in South Australia is the only two seat Grob Egret turboprop spy plane ever built. It needs an overhaul at about A$1,000,000 but is capable of carrying several hundred kilos of scientific gear to 50,000 feet for hours at a time. The crew wear parachutes. Seems like a great national resource going to waste. i.e. ops normal in Australia.

John Marshall
June 16, 2011 3:04 am

Chile and now the volcanic eruption in Ethiopia which is high in sulphur dioxide a cooling gas and sulphur particulates.
Another input into climate mechanics which models will ignore.

Arizona CJ
June 16, 2011 3:28 am

Just a note on the geography here; The volcano in Chile is in the southern hemisphere, but the Nabro volcano in Eritrea isn’t. Ethiopia is entirely north of the equator, and Eritrea is north of Ethiopia. Nabro is 13 degrees north of the equator. So, we have major eruptions (not counting Iceland) in both hemispheres.
I’d love to know how much sulfur dioxide these combined eruptions put into the upper atmosphere, compared to Pinatubo.
If it’s anything close to Pinatubo scale, this, combined with a possible solar grand minima, could mean some cold weather sooner rather than later.

June 16, 2011 3:54 am

Trivia, I know, but interesting that a NZ Southern Air DC3 built in 1944, that normally fies daring tourists over the Southern Alps, was pressed into service yesterday to airlift passengers (stranded by jet airliners being grounded by the volcanic ash plume) from Christchrch to Wellington. The WWII DC3 flies way lower than the big jets and was therefore unaffected by the plume.

June 16, 2011 7:09 am

It’s my understanding that the particles that blow off the deserts reduce hurricanes. I hope this last long enough to do the same thing and reduces hurricane activity this season. Living here in Florida one can hope.

Billy Liar
June 16, 2011 7:46 am

Alexander K says:
June 16, 2011 at 3:54 am
Jets can fly low too! They just use more gas.

June 16, 2011 7:54 am

James Sexton says:
June 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm
Sigh, I can just see it now……… the earth isn’t warming because of the volcano…….. as if they didn’t realize volcanoes erupt often in the real world. Hansen uses aerosols as an excuse to why his models are wrong.
First thing I thought too………
…of course, the other side of the argument would be we need to add more CO2, because we know nothing about all this, and we need to hedge our bets

June 16, 2011 9:38 am

No, then the argument will be that we need to shut down all industry that produces aerosols to prevent cooling (as was argued decades ago), and shut down carbon industries to save the energy for when we really need it.
You can rest assured, in no case will Hansen, Gore, etc ever recommend anything that is good for industry.

Roger L.
June 16, 2011 2:44 pm

TallDave says:
You can rest assured, in no case will Hansen, Gore, etc ever recommend anything that is good for industry.
Except if it is for their own industry ,

Ian Cooper
June 16, 2011 6:39 pm

Further to Alexander K at 3.54 on the 16th,
here is a link to a story and video on that.
The old timers will love this. The work horse of WWII comes to the rescue. My grandfather was an airforce mechanic during WWII and rated the DC3 as the best engines he worked on.
Cheers, Coops

June 16, 2011 9:44 pm

Here is a animated image of last weeks Nabro eruption.
I found it at irishweatheronline, but i think it came from EUMETSAT, or so it says in the image.
Very cool. Very pretty.

June 17, 2011 12:14 pm

All I wanna know is if this volcano’s eruption is large and high enough to influence next year’s global temperatures.

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