Christoph Kern

Christoph Kern is a research physicist at the USGS Volcano Science Center. His research focuses on remote sensing of volcanic gas emissions and applying novel gas monitoring techniques to improve eruption forecasts.


Current Position

Research Physicist
Volcano Emissions Project / Volcano Disaster Assistance Program
U.S. Geological Survey



Diplom, Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, December 2004
Focuses: Theoretical and Applied Physics, Environmental Physics and Computer Science 
Thesis: Applicability of light-emitting diodes as light sources for active long path DOAS measurements

Ph.D., Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, June 2009
Focuses: Remote Sensing, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Volcanic Gas Emissions
Dissertation: Spectroscopic measurements of volcanic gas emissions in the ultraviolet wavelength region



List of Publications

de Moor JM, Kern C, Avard G, Muller C, Aiuppa A, Saballos A, Fischer TP (2017). A new sulfur and carbon degassing inventory for the Southern Central American Volcanic Arc : The importance of accurate time-series datasets and possible tectonic processes responsible for temporal variations in arc-scale volatile emissions. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 18, 1–32. doi: 10.1002/2017GC007141,

Primulyana S, Kern C, Lerner A, Saing UB, Kunrat SL, Alfianti H, Marlia M. (2017), Gas and ash emissions associated with the 2010-present activity of Sinabung Volcano, Indonesia, J Volcanol Geotherm Res, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.11.018,

Kern C, Masias P, Apaza F, Reath, KA, Platt U (2017) High water vapor emissions detected at Sabancaya Volcano prior to its 2016 eruption by differential optical absorption spectroscopy. J Geophys Res Solid Earth 122:1–25. doi: 10.1002/2017JB014020,

Kern C (2017) 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, 146. Remote Sens 9:534. doi: 10.3390/rs9060534,

Werner C, Kern C, Coppola D, Lyons JJ, Kelly PJ, Wallace KL, Schneider DJ, Wessels RL (2017) Magmatic degassing, lava dome extrusion, and explosions from Mount Cleveland volcano, Alaska, 2011-2015: Insight into the continuous nature of volcanic activity over multi-year timescales. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 337:98–110. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.03.001,

de Moor JM, Aiuppa A, Pacheco J, Avard G, Kern C, Liuzzo M, Martínez M, Giudice G, Fischer TP (2016) Short-period volcanic gas precursors to phreatic eruptions: Insights from Poás Volcano, Costa Rica, Earth Planet Sci Lett 1:2–11. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.056,

Kern C (2016) An interface for simulating radiative transfer in and around volcanic plumes with the Monte Carlo radiative transfer model McArtim, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1045, 18 p., doi:10.3133/ofr20161045,

Kern C, de Moor JM, Galle B (2015) Monitoring gas emissions can help forecast volcanic eruptions, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO034081,

Gunawan H, Caudron C, Pallister J, Primulyana S, Christenson B, McCausland W, Van Hindberg V, Lewicki JL, Rouwet D, Kelly P, Kern C, Werner CA, Johnson JB, Utami SB, Syahbana DK, Saing U, Purwanto SBH, Sealing C, Martinez Cruz M, Maryanto S, Bani P, Laurin A, Schmid A, Bradley K, Nandaka I, and Hendrasto M (2015) New insights into Kawah Ijen’s volcanic system from the wet volcano workshop experiment. From: Ohba, T., Capaccioni B, Caudron, C (eds), Geochemistry and Geophysics of Active Volcanic Lakes, Geological Society Special Publications 437, doi:10.1144/SP437.7,

Platt U, Lübcke P, Kuhn J, Bobrowski N, Prata F, Burton M, Kern C (2015) Quantitative imaging of volcanic plumes — Results, needs, and future trends. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 300:7–21. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.10.006,

Kern C, Sutton J, Elias T, Lee L, Kamibayashi K, Antolik L, Werner C (2014) An automated SO2 camera system for continuous, real-time monitoring of gas emissions from Kīlauea Volcano’s summit Overlook Crater. J Volcanol Geotherm Res. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.12.004,

Kern C, Lübcke P, Bobrowski N, Campion R, Mori T, Smekens J-F, Stebel K, Tamburello G, Burton M, Platt U, Prata F (2014) Intercomparison of SO2 camera systems for imaging volcanic gas plumes. J Volcanol Geotherm Res. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.08.026,

Vita, F., Kern, C., and Inguaggiato, S. (2014) Development of a portable active long-path differential optical absorption spectroscopy system for volcanic gas measurements, J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 3, 355-367, doi:10.5194/jsss-3-355-2014,

Nadeau PA., Werner CA., Waite GP, Carn SA., Brewer ID, Elias T, Sutton AJ, Kern C (2014) Using SO2 camera imagery and seismicity to examine degassing and gas accumulation at Kīlauea Volcano, May 2010. J Volcanol Geotherm Res. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.12.005,

Werner C, Bergfeld D, Farrar CD, Doukas MP, Kelly PJ, Kern C (2014) Decadal-scale variability of diffuse CO2 emissions and seismicity revealed from long-term monitoring (1995–2013) at Mammoth Mountain, California, USA. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 289:51–63. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.10.020,

Beirle, S., Hörmann, C., Penning de Vries, M., Dörner, S., Kern, C., and Wagner, T. (2014) Estimating the volcanic emission rate and atmospheric lifetime of SO2 from space: a case study for Kīlauea volcano, Hawai`i, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 8309-8322, doi:10.5194/acp-14-8309-2014,

Kern, C., C. Werner, T. Elias, A. J. Sutton, and P. Lübcke (2013), Applying UV cameras for SO2 detection to distant or optically thick volcanic plumes, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 262, 80–89, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.06.009,

Lübcke P, Bobrowski N, Delgado Granados H, Illing S, Kern C, Alvarez Nieves JM, Vogel L, Zielcke J, and Platt U (2013) On the absolute calibration of SO2 cameras, Atmos Meas Tech 6, 677-696,doi:10.5194/amt-6-677-2013,

Kern C, Deutschmann T, Werner C, Sutton AJ, Elias T, Kelly PJ (2012) Improving the accuracy of SO2 column densities and emission rates obtained from upward-looking UV-spectroscopic measurements of volcanic plumes by taking realistic radiative transfer into account, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D20302, doi:10.1029/2012JD017936,

Kelly PJ, Kern C, Lopez T, Werner C, Aiuppa A, Roberts TJ (2012) Rapid chemical evolution of tropospheric volcanic emissions from Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, based on observations of ozone and halogen-containing gases, J Volcanol Geoth Res, online first, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2012.04.023

Vogel L, Galle B, Kern C, Delgado Granados H, Conde V, Norman P, Arellano S, Landgren O, Lubcke P, Alvarez Nieves JM, Cardenas Gonzales L, Platt U (2011) Early in-flight detection of SO2 via Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy: a feasible aviation safety measure to prevent potential encounters with volcanic plumes. Atmos Meas Tech 4:1-20, doi:10.5194/amt-4-1-2011

Deutschmann T, Beirle S, Friess U, Grzegorski M, Kern C, Kritten L, Platt U, Prados-Roman C, Pukite J, Wagner T, Werner B, Pfeilsticker K (2011) The Monte Carlo Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Model McArtim: Introduction and Validation of Jacobians and 3D Features. J Quant Spec and Rad Transf 112:1119-1137

Galle B, Johansson M, Rivera C, Zhang Y, Kihlman M, Kern C, Lehmann T, Platt U, Arellano S, Hidalgo S (2010) Network for Observation of Volcanic and Atmospheric Change (NOVAC) - A global network for volcanic gas monitoring: Network layout and instrument description. J Geophys Res 115:D05304, doi:10.1029/2009JD011823

Bobrowski N, Kern C, Platt U, Hörmann C, Wagner T (2010) Novel SO2 spectral evaluation scheme using the 360-390 nm wavelength range. Atmos Meas Tech 3:1-13

Kern C, Kick F, Lübcke P, Vogel L, Wöhrbach M, Platt U (2010) Theoretical description of functionality, applications, and limitations of SO2 cameras for the remote sensing of volcanic plumes. Atmos Meas Tech 3:733-749, doi:10.5194/amt-3-733-2010

Kern C, Deutschmann T, Vogel L, Wöhrbach M, Wagner T, Platt U (2010) Radiative transfer corrections for accurate spectroscopic measurements of volcanic gas emissions. Bull Volcanol 72:233-247, DOI:10.1007/s00445-009-0313-7

Sihler H, Kern C, Poehler D, Platt U (2009) Applying light-emitting diodes with narrow-band emission features in differential spectroscopy. Optics Lett 34:3716-3718

Asaf D, Pederson D, Matveev V, Peleg M, Kern C, Zingler J, Platt U, Luria M (2009) Long-Term Measurements of NO3 Radical at a Semiarid Urban Site: 1. Extreme Concentration Events and Their Oxidation Capacity. Environ Sci Technol 43:9117-9123, DOI: 10.1021/es900798b

Kern C (2009) Spectroscopic measurements of volcanic gas emissions in the ultra-violet wavelength region. Ph.D. thesis, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg

Kern C, Sihler H, Vogel L, Rivera C, Herrera M, Platt U (2009) Halogen oxide measurements at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua using active long path differential optical absorption spectroscopy. Bull Volcanol 71:659 - 670, doi:10.1007/s00445-008-0252-8

von Glasow R, Bobrowski N, Kern C (2008) The effects of volcanic eruptions on atmospheric chemistry. Chem Geol 263:131-142

Sinreich R, Volkamer R, Filsinger F, Frieß U, Kern C, Platt U, Sebastian O, Wagner T (2007) MAX-DOAS detection of glyoxal during ICARTT 2004. Atmos Chem Phys 7:1293-1303

Kleffmann J, Lörzer JC, Wiesen P, Kern C, Trick S, Volkamer R, Rodenas M, Wirtz K (2006) Intercomparison of the DOAS and LOPAP Techniques for the Detection of Nitrous Acid (HONO). Atmos Environ 40:3640-3652

Kern C, Trick S, Rippel B, Platt U (2006) Applicability of light-emitting diodes as light sources for active differential optical absorption spectroscopy measurements. Appl Opt 45:2077-2088

Hak C, Pundt I, Trick S, Kern C, Platt U, Dommen J, Ordónez C, Prevot ASH, Junkermann W, Astorga-Lloréns C, Larsen BR, Mellqvist J, Strandberg A, Yu Y, Galle B, Kleffmann J, Lörzer JC, Braathen GO, Volkamer R (2005) Intercomparison of four different in-situ techniques for ambient formaldehyde measurements in an urban air. Atmos Chem Phys 5:2881-2900