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Near-real-time volcanic cloud monitoring: Insights into global explosive volcanic eruptive activity through analysis of Volcanic Ash Advisories

January 21, 2021

Understanding the location, intensity, and likely duration of volcanic hazards is key to reducing risk from volcanic eruptions. Here, we use a novel near-real-time dataset comprising Volcanic Ash Advisories (VAAs) issued over 10 years to investigate global rates and durations of explosive volcanic activity. The VAAs were collected from the nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) worldwide. Information extracted allowed analysis of the frequency and type of explosive behaviour, including analysis of key eruption source parameters (ESPs) such as volcanic cloud height and duration. The results reflect changes in the VAA reporting process, data sources, and volcanic activity through time. The data show an increase in the number of VAAs issued since 2015 that cannot be directly correlated to an increase in volcanic activity. Instead, many represent increased observations, including improved capability to detect low- to mid-level volcanic clouds (FL101–FL200, 3–6 km asl), by higher temporal, spatial, and spectral resolution satellite sensors. Comparison of ESP data extracted from the VAAs with the Mastin et al. (J Volcanol Geotherm Res 186:10–21, 2009a) database shows that traditional assumptions used in the classification of volcanoes could be much simplified for operational use. The analysis highlights the VAA data as an exceptional resource documenting global volcanic activity on timescales that complement more widely used eruption datasets.