Millimeter-wave remote sensing technology can significantly improve measurements of volcanic eruptions, yielding new insights into eruption processes and improving forecasts of drifting volcanic ash for aviation safety. Radiometers can measure water vapor density and temperature inside eruption clouds, improving on existing measurements with infrared cameras that are limited to measuring the outer cloud surface. Millimeter-wave radar can measure the 3-D mass distribution of volcanic ash inside eruption plumes and their nearby drifting ash clouds. Millimeter wavelengths are better matched to typical ash particle sizes, offering better sensitivity than longer wavelength existing weather radar measurements, as well as the unique ability to directly measure ash particle size in situ. Here we present sensitivity calculations in the context of developing the water and ash millimeter-wave spectrometer (WAMS) instrument. WAMS, a radar/radiometer system designed to use off-the-shelf components, would be able to measure water vapor and ash throughout an entire eruption cloud, a unique capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7862840
Pages (from-to)3177-3185
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Millimeter wave radar
  • radiometry
  • volcanic ash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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