Plumes from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawai’i

April 8th, 2008 |

GOES-11 visible images (Animated GIF)

Explosive events from the Kilauea Volcano (located on the Big Island of Hawai’i) began to occur in mid-March of 2008 — these were the first explosive events from that particular volcano since 1927. Activity from Kilauea then continued for several weeks; GOES-11 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible imagery from 07 April 2008 (above) showed the hazy signature of a long volcanic plume (composed primarily of steam, but possibly containing small amounts of ash) streaming southwestward from Hawai’i. With the typical northeasterly trade winds that often persist over that region, this was the common scenario seen on many days during late March into early April.

However, the northeasterly trade wind flow regime was interrupted by a surface trough of low pressure on 08 April 2008, and southerly to southeasterly winds began to advect the Kilauea plume to the north and northwest during the day (photo). The volcanic plume at that time contained significantly elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which forced the closure of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on 08 April. GOES-11 visible imagery (below) revealed two separate plumes, emanating from the Halema`uma`u and the Pu`u `O`o vents of the Kilauea volcano.

GOES-11 visible images (Animated GIF)

The volcanic SO2 plume on 08 April could be tracked using a GOES-11 sounder brightness temperature difference product (subtracting the 13.4 µm band 5 temperature from the 7.4 µm band 10 temperature) — a small “bubble” of elevated SO2 concentration (brightness temperature difference values of 0º to +5º K, yellow to orange colors) was seen to move slowly northwestward from the Big Island of Hawai’i toward the smaller islands of Maui/Kahoolawe/Lanai/Molokai (below). Unfortunately, GOES-11 sounder data over the Hawai’i region is only available 7 times a day (not once per hour, as it is over the continental US), so the motion of the SO2 feature was more difficult to follow compared to using the more frequent 15-minute visible imagery from the GOES-11 imager.

GOES-11 sounder difference product

The surface visibility at Lahaina / West Maui (station identifier PHJH, below) decreased from 15 miles to 7 miles (with haze reported) as southerly winds blew the volcanic plume and SO2 cloud over the island of Maui on 08 April. On the Big Island of Hawai’i, volcanic fog (sometimes referred to as “vog”) reduced visibility to less than 1 mile at Hilo.

Lahaina/West Maui surface meteorogram

The 7.4 µm band 10 of the GOES sounder is primarily a “water vapor absorption” band, but this particular sounder channel is also sensitive to high SO2 loadings in the atmosphere (as shown by the figure shown below, taken from Ackerman, S. A., A. J. Schreiner, T. J. Schmit, H. M. Woolf, J. Li1, and M. Pavolonis, 2008: Using the GOES Sounder to Monitor Upper-level SO2 from Volcanic Eruptions, submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research). The plot also shows that high SO2 loading could be detected using a channel located within the 8.4-9.0 µm band.

GOES sounder spectral response function plot

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on the future GOES-R satellite will have a similar 7.3 µm channel (at a 2 km spatial resolution, compared to the 10 km spatial resolution on the current GOES sounder), and with ABI imagery available at more frequent time intervals (images every 5 minutes over the full disk), the detection of these types of volcanic SO2 plumes will be significantly improved in the GOES-R era.

Terra MODIS images at 20:55 UTC on 08 April (below; courtesy of Mat Gunshor, CIMSS) demonstrate the utility of using the 11.0 µm – 8.5 µm brightness temperature difference product to help discriminate between the SO2 plume (darker blue enhancement on the difference product image, moving north from the Big Island of Hawai’i) and the larger steam plume (evident as the hazy area on the visible image, moving westward and northwestward from the island).

MODIS images (Animated GIF)

The nighttime glow of Hawaii’s Kilauwea volcano

April 28th, 2015 |
Himawari-8 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click to play animation)

The Kilauwea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i began erupting in March 2008 (blog post | USGS reference), and has been in a nearly continuous phase of activity since then. During the pre-dawn hours of 28 April 2015, thermal signatures of the Kilauwea summit lava lake and nearby lava flows could be seen on McIDAS-V images of 10-minute interval Himawari-8 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (above; click image to play animation). The dark black pixels represent the hottest IR brightness temperatures.

On the corresponding Himawari-8 2.3 µm near-IR channel images (below; click image to play animation), the clusters of bright white pixels represent the glow of the hot lava features.

Himawari-8 2.3 µm near-IR channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 2.3 µm near-IR channel images (click to play animation)

A different view is provided by the polar-orbiting Suomi NPP satellite — a comparison of AWIPS II images of VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR data (below) revealed the locations of the hottest lava features (black to yellow to red color enhancement) at 11:40 UTC (1:40 am local time).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

A longer animation using GOES-15 (GOES-West) 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (below; click image to play animation) showed considerable temporal fluctuation in the location and intensity of the hot lava pixels (black to yellow to red color enhancement). For the latest information on the Kilauea eruption, visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click to play animation)

Strong cold front moves through the Hawaiian Islands

January 23rd, 2014 |
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above; click images to play animation) showed the dramatic signature of rapid intensification of a very large mid-latitude cyclone over the eastern Pacific Ocean during the 20 January – 23 January 2014 time period.

A comparison of AWIPS images of 1-km resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel data (below) revealed the tightly-wrapped center of circulation at 13:01 UTC on 20 January. Intricate mesoscale banding structures could also be seen within portions of the warm conveyor belt southeast and east of the storm center (which was analyzed to have a central pressure of 956 hPa).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

A Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image (below) showed a small but well-defined comma-shaped cloud feature marking the center of the storm at 00:13 UTC on 21 January (which was analyzed to have a central pressure of 952 hPa).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

A Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image at 23:54 UTC on 21 January (below) depicted the band of clouds associated with the 950 hPa cyclone’s cold front as it approached the northwestern portion of the Hawaiian Island chain. A narrow “rope cloud” marked the leading edge of the cold frontal boundary.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

In a closer view centered over the Hawaiian Islands at 23:54 UTC on 21 January (below), a hazy “vog” plume (from the active Kilauea volcano on the Big Island) could be seen blowing northeastward ahead of the approaching cold front. Note how the areal coverage of the vog plume shows up better in the broadband 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image compared to the 0.64 µm visible channel image with its more narrow spectral width.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Finally, a Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image at 23:35 UTC on 22 January (below) showed the cold frontal band as the leading edge was about to move southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Note that Honolulu (PHNL) had a temperature/dewpoint of 78ºF/45ºF, with northwesterly winds gusting to 34 knots at 00 UTC. Wind speeds on the summits of the Big Island of Hawaii were sustained hurricane force, with gusts to near 100 mph. The strong winds also caused a giant northwesterly ocean swell, with significant wave heights as high as 31 feet at Buoy 51101 (located 91 miles northwest of Kauai). There was also a notable air temperature drop at Buoy 51101 as the cold front passed, with a peak wind gust of 39 knots.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed the cold front as it was passing through the Hawaiian Island chain on 22 January. A few areas of orographic wave clouds could be seen as the strong northwesterly winds in the wake of the cold front interacted with the topography of the islands.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Vog plume streaming off the island of Hawaii

January 10th, 2013 |
Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel, 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel, and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel, 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel, and 11.45 µm IR channel images

A comparison of AWIPS images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel, 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel, and 11.45 µm IR channel data (above) showed a broad “vog” plume streaming westward off the Big Island of Hawaii on 10 January 2013. The primary source of this vog plume was likely the active Kilauea volcano — and the 3.64 µm shortwave IR image revealed a small “hot spot” at the summit of the volcano, which exhibited a brightness temperature value of 49.5º C (orange color enhancement).

The VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image with an overlay of 1-hour interval MADIS atmospheric motion vectors (or “satellite cloud-tracked winds”) showed the typical easterly trade wind flow regime that usually transports the vog plume westward away from the Hawaiian Islands (below). However, synoptic-scale disturbances that disrupt this trade wind flow can cause the vog plume to move over inhabitied portions of the islands, causing air quality problems.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image + MADIS 1-hour interval atmospheric motion vectors

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image + MADIS 1-hour interval atmospheric motion vectors

Other examples of Hawaiian vog plumes can be found here on the CIMSS Satellite Blog.