Increased volcanic activity over the past decade is thought to have contributed significantly to the recent global warming 'hiatus'. Thus, it is important to improve our understanding of the microphysical and optical properties of even small volcanic plumes as well as their associated climate impacts. On February 13th, 2014, the Mt. Kelud volcano, located near 4°S on the island of Java (Indonesia), injected volcanic gases and ash into the tropical stratosphere. An overpass of the CALIPSO lidar during the active phase of the eruption showed volcanic materials reaching 26 km with the main volcanic cloud near 18-19 km. CALIPSO tracked the dispersion of the Kelud plume throughout the tropical lower stratosphere (~20°N-20°) and showed the persistence of small ash particles a month after the eruption. This is significant because the climate impact of ash is neglected in most climate models.
In May 2014, a team of NASA and University of Wyoming scientists mounted a 2-week balloon field campaign to Darwin (Australia) to characterize the optical properties, sulfate fraction and particle sizes of the stratospheric plume from Mt. Kelud, while it remained relatively fresh. They conducted 4 launches of backscatter sondes with red and blue channels under small balloons, and a single launch of two optical particle counters, one with an inlet heated to 200°C, under a large balloon, to characterize aerosol size and volatility. Preliminary results from the campaign indicated 2 layers between 18 and 21 km and suggested the persistence of ash particles in the lower layer of the Kelud plume 3 months after the eruption.
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