In their recent study, Pering et al. (2017) presented a novel method for measuring volcanic water vapor fluxes. Their method is based on imaging volcanic gas and aerosol plumes using a camera sensitive to the near-infrared (NIR) absorption of water vapor. The imaging data are empirically calibrated by comparison with in situ water measurements made within the plumes. Though the presented method may give reasonable results over short time scales, the authors fail to recognize the sensitivity of the technique to light scattering on aerosols within the plume. In fact, the signals measured by Pering et al. are not related to the absorption of NIR radiation by water vapor within the plume. Instead, the measured signals are most likely caused by a change in the effective light path of the detected radiation through the atmospheric background water vapor column. Therefore, their method is actually based on establishing an empirical relationship between in-plume scattering efficiency and plume water content. Since this relationship is sensitive to plume aerosol abundance and numerous environmental factors, the method will only yield accurate results if it is calibrated very frequently using other measurement techniques.
|Title||The difficulty of measuring the absorption of scattered sunlight by H2O and CO2 in volcanic plumes: A comment on Pering et al. “A novel and inexpensive method for measuring volcanic plume water fluxes at high temporal resolution,” Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 14|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Remote Sensing|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Volcano Science Center|