Tongariro Eruption in New Zealand

August 6th, 2012 |
Tongariro Ash Plume as seen by VIIRS Day-Night Band on Suomi/NPP

Tongariro Ash Plume as seen by VIIRS Day-Night Band on Suomi/NPP

Mount Tongariro in New Zealand (on the North Island) erupted on Monday, August 6th, for the first time in a century. A Suomi-NPP overpass at 12:52 UTC, approximately one hour after the eruption, allowed the day-night band to capture an image of the volcanic plume as it moved eastward across the central part of the North Island. The 3.74 µm shortwave IR image and the 11.45 µm longwave IR image show that the height of the plume is fairly high: brightness temperatures in the 11.45 µm image are around 218 K or -55º C. (VIIRS Imagery courtesy of William Straka, UW-Madison/CIMSS). The minor eruption did disrupt air travel, with some flights cancelled in Gisborne, Taupa, Rotorua and Palmerston North.

MTSAT Enhanced Brightness Temperature Difference between 10.8 µm and 12 µm (click image to play animation)

MTSAT Enhanced Brightness Temperature Difference between 10.8 µm and 12 µm (click image to play animation)

Volcanic Ash has different emissivity properties at 11 and 12 µm; hence, the heritage method for detecting Volcanic Ash uses the difference in brightness temperatures at those two wavelengths. The loop above shows MTSAT-2 imagery; Note the spike in signal in the 1232 UTC image (about 30 minutes after the eruption) that continues to grow as it crosses the coast at 1332 UTC; it then moves rapidly eastward over the ocean.

MTSAT Visible Imagery at 1932 UTC on 6 August 2012

MTSAT Visible Imagery at 1932 UTC on 6 August 2012

Visible imagery from MTSAT at 1932 UTC, above, approximately 8 hours after the eruption, shows the ash cloud over the ocean east of New Zealand.

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