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Experiences from near-real-time satellite-based volcano monitoring in Central America: case studies at Fuego, Guatemala

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Over the past decade, remote sensing has been used increasingly in the study of active volcanoes and their associated hazards. Ground-based remote sensing techniques, such as those aimed at the analysis of volcanic gases or fumarole temperatures, are now part of routine monitoring operations with additional satellite-based remote sensing methods. It is likely that the use of satellite-based systems will be most beneficial for volcano monitoring in developing country regions and remote areas. In such situations, an operational real-time satellite remote sensing system could provide rapid assessment of volcanic activity levels and potentially be used to derive crucial information for disaster prevention. This would allow key at-risk areas to be rapidly and appropriately targeted. An operational test of such a system has been carried out in the past 3 years in Central America, based on local reception and analysis of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) imagery. Here we analyse the performance and data quality for recent activity of Fuego volcano (Guatemala). We assess the ability of the system to detect, quantify and monitor periods of heightened activity and consider the benefits of such information being available in near-real time to local geoscientists and for hazard mitigation. We show that the system is able to detect significant changes in volcanic activity (November and December 2004, February and December 2005). There are good comparisons for these events with large-scale monitoring systems using additional remote sensing data. This paper provides one of the few evaluations of the direct application of operational AVHRR data to volcanic hazard monitoring and disaster management in developing countries.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, King's College London (KCL), London, UK,Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) and Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), Fairbanks, Alaska, USA 2: Department of Geography, King's College London (KCL), London, UK 3: Direccion General de Geofisica, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Frente de la Policlinica Oriental, Managua, Nicaragua 4: Bradford University Remote Sensing (BURS) Ltd, Harrogate, UK 5: Coordinadora Nacional para la Reduccion de Desastres (CONRED), Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala 6: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia y Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), Guatemala City, Guatemala

Publication date: 01 November 2008

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