The 2019 Raikoke volcanic eruption – Part 1: Dispersion model simulations and satellite retrievals of volcanic sulfur dioxide
De Leeuw, J.
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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Volcanic eruptions can cause significant disruption to society, and numerical models are crucial for forecasting the dispersion of erupted material. Here we assess the skill and limitations of the Met Office's Numerical Atmospheric-dispersion Modelling Environment (NAME) in simulating the dispersion of the sulfur dioxide (SO2) cloud from the 21–22 June 2019 eruption of the Raikoke volcano (48.3∘ N, 153.2∘ E). The eruption emitted around 1.5±0.2 Tg of SO2, which represents the largest volcanic emission of SO2 into the stratosphere since the 2011 Nabro eruption. We simulate the temporal evolution of the volcanic SO2 cloud across the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and compare our model simulations to high-resolution SO2 measurements from the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) and the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) satellite SO2 products. We show that NAME accurately simulates the observed location and horizontal extent of the SO2 cloud during the first 2–3 weeks after the eruption but is unable, in its standard configuration, to capture the extent and precise location of the highest magnitude vertical column density (VCD) regions within the observed volcanic cloud. Using the structure–amplitude–location (SAL) score and the fractional skill score (FSS) as metrics for model skill, NAME shows skill in simulating the horizontal extent of the cloud for 12–17 d after the eruption where VCDs of SO2 (in Dobson units, DU) are above 1 DU. For SO2 VCDs above 20 DU, which are predominantly observed as small-scale features within the SO2 cloud, the model shows skill on the order of 2–4 d only. The lower skill for these high-SO2-VCD regions is partly explained by the model-simulated SO2 cloud in NAME being too diffuse compared to TROPOMI retrievals. Reducing the standard horizontal diffusion parameters used in NAME by a factor of 4 results in a slightly increased model skill during the first 5 d of the simulation, but on longer timescales the simulated SO2 cloud remains too diffuse when compared to TROPOMI measurements. The skill of NAME to simulate high SO2 VCDs and the temporal evolution of the NH-mean SO2 mass burden is dominated by the fraction of SO2 mass emitted into the lower stratosphere, which is uncertain for the 2019 Raikoke eruption. When emitting 0.9–1.1 Tg of SO2 into the lower stratosphere (11–18 km) and 0.4–0.7 Tg into the upper troposphere (8–11 km), the NAME simulations show a similar peak in SO2 mass burden to that derived from TROPOMI (1.4–1.6 Tg of SO2) with an average SO2 e-folding time of 14–15 d in the NH. Our work illustrates how the synergy between high-resolution satellite retrievals and dispersion models can identify potential limitations of dispersion models like NAME, which will ultimately help to improve dispersion modelling efforts of volcanic SO2 clouds.
CitationDe Leeuw, J.; Schmidt, A.; Witham, C.S.; Theys, N.; Taylor, I.A.; Grainger, R.G.; Pope, R.J.; Haywood, J.; Osborne, M.; Kristiansen, N.I. (2021). The 2019 Raikoke volcanic eruption – Part 1: Dispersion model simulations and satellite retrievals of volcanic sulfur dioxide. , Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 21, Issue 14, 10851-10879, DOI: 10.5194/acp-21-10851-2021.