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Japanese satellite will take control of Russian volcanoes

The new data received from the spacecraft will allow us to more accurately monitor the activity and threats from the Far Eastern volcanoes of our country.

The Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences has included in the monitoring system of volcanoes in Kamchatka and Kuril data from a geostationary satellite Himawari-8. Thanks to this spacecraft, scientists managed to observe a rare case of simultaneous eruption of three volcanoes of the so-called Northern Group in Kamchatka. The website of the institute reports this.

The active volcanoes of Kamchatka are one of the most active in the world, each year from three to seven of them erupt, raising ash clouds 10-15 kilometers in height, from where they are carried to thousands of kilometers of surrounding territories. All this causes ash falls in cities and towns, is the cause of death of forests and elements of economic infrastructure. Especially dangerous are ash clouds and its trains for the flights of modern jet planes: their motors can fail even after a brief stay in such a cloud. Since 1993, daily monitoring of volcanoes began to reduce the danger from eruptions for air travel and the population. It is led by the Kamchatka Response Group to volcanic eruptions (KVERT).

To help it in 2011, a monitoring system was established for volcanoes in Kamchatka and Kuril VolSatView, which uses satellite data, among others. Already in 2014, it began to function in the test mode on the service of KVERT.

The web-based cartographic interface created in the system allows users to get the necessary information in real time from the ash cloud spreading areas to the current status of a particular volcano. It is enough for a client of the system to have a regular computer with a connection to the global network – the server part of the system will provide him with all the necessary data.

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Until recently, information in the system came from satellites of the Russian series “Meteor-M”, “Resource-P”, “Canopus-B” and foreign NOAA, Landsat, Sentinel, as well as Terra, Aqua, NPP, EO-1. However, many of them fly over Kamchatka and the Kuriles in a relatively short time. Therefore, starting from 2016, a geostationary Japanese satellite was added to them Himawari-8. As is known, a geostationary orbit allows a satellite to “hover” over a particular point of the surface, being above it constantly. So thanks to Himawari-8 information about the territory of Kamchatka and the Kurils can be updated every 10 minutes, and in some cases – every 2.5 minutes.

The satellite will help to investigate rapid volcanic processes. It is equipped with sixteen channels of data acquisition, with which it can provide scientists with high resolution images in the visible, near and thermal infrared ranges. The spacecraft can perform up to 144 monitoring sessions per day.

Specifically for working with data Himawari-8 new tools have been created in the system, enabling to build animated images, illustrate the dynamics of eruptions and analyze time series of observations. Thanks to this, it is possible to conduct an operative analysis of information with a delay of no more than 30 minutes from the moment of registration of an event by a satellite.

Satellite monitoring of Kamchatka volcanoes will provide volcanologists with data on thermal anomalies (they often precede eruptions) and ash plumes. All this will allow to promptly inform the population and regional companies about dangerous situations related to eruptions.

So, already on June 14-18, 2017, during the preliminary work with the data of the Japanese satellite, the researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences managed to observe a unique case – the eruption process of three volcanoes of the Northern Kamchatka group: Shiveluch, Klyuchevsky and Nameless. Thanks to the information Himawari-8 managed to restore the development of all the events that took place in this area – from the beginning of explosions (explosions related to eruptions) to the size of the clouds of ash and the direction of their movement. According to these data, an animation picture was created that clearly illustrates the transience of powerful explosive eruptions and the long-term existence of ash clouds in the atmosphere, a real danger for civil and military aviation.

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