Eruptions of Popocatépetl in Mexico

November 23rd, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Infrared Window (10. µm, right) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

An eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano — the largest since 2013 — occurred on 23 November 2017. The volcanic cloud was evident in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) as it drifted southward. However, due to the relatively thin nature of the cloud (a result of low values of ash loading), 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures were quite warm (greater than -20ºC), making a height determination from the single-band infrared imagery alone rather difficult.

This example demonstrates the value of using multi-spectral image techniques to derive retrieved products — available from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site — such as Ash Height (below). In this case, the retrieved ash cloud height was 7 km or 24,000 feet (darker green enhancement0, even for portions of the cloud with relatively low ash loading.

Ash Cloud Height product [click to play animation]

Ash Cloud Height product [click to play animation]

During the following nighttime hours, another eruption occurred, this time sending ash to a slightly higher altitude of 8 km or 26,000 feet (below).

Ash Cloud Height product [click to play animation]

Ash Cloud Height product [click to play animation]

A GOES-16 GeoColor animation can be seen here.

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Two of the channels on GOES-16 detect radiation in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum where sulfur dioxide (SO2) absorbs radiation: Band 10 (7.3 µm, the low-level Water Vapor channel) and Band 11 (8.4 µm, the Infrared Cloud Phase channel, see in particular the figure on the first page of the Quick Guide). The SO2 Red-Green-Blue (RGB) Composite was designed to highlight volcanic plumes, using the Brightness Temperature Difference between the mid-level and low-level Water Vapor Channels (6.9 µm7.3 µm) as the Red Component, the Brightness Temperature Difference between the Clean Infrared Window (Band 13, 10.3 µm) and the Infrared Cloud Phase (Band 11, 8.4 µm) as the Green Component, and the Clean Infrared Window (Band 13, 10.3 µm) as the Blue Component.  The eruption is obvious in the SO2 RGB imagery, below, with magenta and blue values apparent.  The volcanic plume’s appearance differs markedly from that of the convection along the Pacific coast of Mexico south and west of the eruption.

GOES-16 SO2 RGB, 2023 UTC 23 November 2017 – 2148 UTC 23 November 2017 (Click to animate)

Eruption of the Popocatépetl Volcano in Mexico

January 25th, 2016 |

Soumi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Soumi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The Popocatépetl Volcano in Mexico began erupting at 1546 UTC on 20 January 2016 (Washington VAAC message). The volcanic plume was evident on Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images on 23, 24, and 25 January, as viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (above).

Nighttime images of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Longwave Infrared Window (11.45 µm), and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 0817 UTC on 25 January (below, courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) revealed the hot spot of the erupting volcano summit (orange pixels), and ample illumination from the Moon allowed the plume to be seen on the Day/Night Band image. The large areas of bright city lights from Mexico City and Pueblo (located northwest and southeast of Popocatépetl, respectively) are also very apparent on the Day/Night Band image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Longwave Infrared Window (11.45 µm), and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Longwave Infrared Window (11.45 µm), and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A legacy product for use in the detection of volcanic ash plumes is the Infrared “Split-Window” (11-12 µm) brightness temperature difference product (below), which showed the plume streaming eastward to northeastward during the 24-25 January period.

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared "Split Window" (11-12 µm) Brightness Temperature Difference product images [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared “Split Window” (11-12 µm) Brightness Temperature Difference product images [click to enlarge]

Taking advantage of the multi-spectral imagery available from the MODIS and VIIRS instruments on the Terra/Aqua ans Suomi NPP satellites, quantitative products can be derived such as Ash Height, Ash Loading, Ash Effective Radius, and Ash Probability from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Coud Monitoring (below).

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Height product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Height product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Loading product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Loading product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Effective Radius product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Effective Radius product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Probability product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Volcanic Ash Probability product [click to enlarge]

Eruption of Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico

June 17th, 2013 |
GOES-13 visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (above; click image to play animation) showed signals of a brief eruption (video 1 | video 2) of the Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico on 17 June 2013. A volcanic ash plume can be seen drifting southwestward on the visible images, and a warm thermal anomaly (black to red color enhancement) appear on the shortwave IR images. According to an advisory issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, the maximum height of the ash was expected to be around 28,000 feet.

Oil pipeline fire in Mexico

December 19th, 2010 |
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible images

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible images

We received the following in an email from Mike Sporer (NOAA/NESDIS):

I saw this in a Goes-13 visible loop. There appears to be a "dark cloud" originating near the volcano Popocatepetl. But I have never seen a volcanic plume appear dark in a visible image before. The "dark cloud" also appears in IR4 at a temperature similar to nearby mid clouds but IR2 shows no hot spot signature of volcanic activity. Could it be that Popocatepetl burped a huge cloud of gas that is absorbing in the visible spectrum?

Taking a closer look using McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above), a large dark plume feature can be seen moving southward and then southwestward, just to the east and south of the summit of the Popocatepetl volcano (denoted by the red “V” on the images) on 19 December 2010. It is interesting to note that part of the northern (trailing) edge of the dark plume appeared to slow down and then separate from the main body of the plume around 17 UTC — the turning of the surface winds from northerly to southerly at Puebla (the observing station just to the east) may have had something to do with this plume behavior.

MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image created using channels 01/04/03

MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image created using channels 01/04/03

MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image created using channels 07/02/01

MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image created using channels 07/02/01

The plume feature also appeared very dark on MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images at 17:35 UTC (above) — and on AWIPS images of POES AVHRR data at 19:45 UTC (below) the plume exhibited IR brightness temperatures around 12-15º C, which corresponded to altitudes between 9307-10,656 feet or 2838-3249 meters on the Mexico City MMMX rawinsonde plot).

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible and 12.0 µm IR images

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible and 12.0 µm IR images

As it turns out, this plume was not volcanic in nature, but rather was a result of a large fire from an explosion on the Nueva Teapa oil pipeline near San Marten Texmelucan in the state of Puebla (news article 1 | news article 2). Several hours earlier, a pronounced “hot spot” (yellow to red color enhancement) could be seen on a 1-km resolution MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image at 08:10 UTC (below). The maximum IR brightness temperature  within the hot spot feature at that time was 322 K (49º C).

MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up on this very interesting satellite feature!