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Eruption of the Eyjafjöll volcano on 14 April

Near real time observations by the OMI instrument
recent image of SO2 colum recent image of aerosol index
Absorbing aerosol index and SO2 columns over Europe (OMI measurements).
Click image to enlarge.


image of eyjafjöll plume
© Saeberg/Reuters
The Eyjafjöll volcano in Iceland has injected a considerable amount of ash particles and trace gases (e.g. SO2) into the upper atmosphere after its eruption started on April 14th. The volcanic ash cloud has rapidly been transported and dispersed by the winds over most of Europe. Due to the presumable damaging impact of ash particles on the aircraft engines, thousands of air flights have been cancelled over the entire European continent causing an unprecedented situation for the travelers, aviation sector and connected economic activities.

Ash smoke and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emitted by the volcano are monitored using satellite measurements as part of the SACS service*, jointly operated by BIRA-IASB, KNMI, ULB and DLR. Color maps presented on this page display absorbing aerosol index and SO2 columns observed with the OMI instrument.


Absorbing aerosol index over Europe based on OMI data for 15 and 16 April 2010.
map ot the aerosol index of 16 April map ot the aerosol index of 16 April
Click image to enlarge.


The absorbing aerosol index is a qualitative indicator of the presence of ash particles in the atmosphere, which enables identifying the areas with the highest ash concentrations and to monitor the evolution of the volcanic cloud.

* The Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS) hosted by BIRA-IASB aims at supporting the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers, the official organizations responsible for gathering information on volcanic clouds. This is achieved by delivering near-real time data derived from satellite measurements regarding volcanic emissions, and in case of volcanic eruptions to send out alerts by email to interested parties.


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For more information, please contact : Nicolas Theys or Michel Van Roozendael

Last update on 22 Mar 2013