Measurement Report: Lidar measurements of stratospheric aerosol following the 2019 Raikoke and Ulawun volcanic eruptions

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At 18 UTC on 21 June 2019 the Raikoke volcano in the Kuril islands began a large magnitude explosive eruption, sending a plume of ash and sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere. A Raman lidar system at Capel Dewi Atmospheric Observatory, UK, was deployed to measure the vertical extent and optical depth of the volcanic aerosol cloud following the eruption. The elastic channel at 355 nm allowed measurements up to 25 km, but the Raman channel was only sensitive to the tropo-sphere. Therefore, retrievals of backscatter ratio profiles from the raw backscatter measurements required aerosol-free profiles derived from nearby radiosondes and allowance for aerosol extinction using a lidar ratio of 40-50 sr. Small amounts of aerosol were measured prior to the arrival of the volcanic cloud (27 June – 5 July 2019), from pyroconvection over Canada. Model simulations by de Leeuw et al. (2020) and Kloss et al. (2020) show that volcanic ash may have reached Europe from 1 July onwards, and was certainly present over the UK after 10 July. The lidar detected a thin layer at an altitude of 14 km late on 3 July, with the first detection of the main aerosol cloud on 13 July. In this initial period the aerosol was confined below 16 km but eventually the cloud extended to 20.5 km. A sustained period of clearly enhanced stratospheric Aerosol Optical Depths began in early August, with maximum value (at 355 nm) around 0.05 in mid-August and remaining above 0.02 until early November. Thereafter, optical depths decayed to around 0.01 by the end of 2019 and remained around that level until May 2020. The altitude of peak backscatter varied considerably (between 14 and 18 km) but was generally around 15 km. However, on one notable occasion on 25 August 2019, a layer around 300 m thick with peak lidar backscatter ratio around 1.5 was observed as high as 21 km.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2021