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Report on Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989) — October 1982

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 10 (October 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989) Ejecta from El Chichón reaches both poles; lidar and sunset observations

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:10. Smithsonian Institution.



Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


In late October and early November, a NASA Electra aircraft with a package of remote sensing instruments on board gathered data on El Chichón's stratospheric cloud from about 46°N to 46°S. Only very preliminary results were available at press time. Lidar profiles were collected over the entire flight path, optical depths of the atmosphere were determined by sun photometry at 13 wavelengths, and the total SO2 and O3 columns over the aircraft were measured. No dramatic changes in the position or morphology of the cloud appeared to have occurred since a similar flight (N Hemisphere only) 8-13 July. Stratospheric material was detected over the entire flight path, and M. P. McCormick believes that ejecta from El Chichón has reached both poles. As in July, there was a distinct boundary between the much more dense cloud at lower northern latitudes and more diffuse material farther from the volcano. The densest portion of the cloud extended only a few degrees farther N in November than in July. A similar boundary was found at lower southern latitudes. The strongest concentration of aerosols was typically at 23-24 km altitude, with the base of the cloud at about 21 km, but considerable variation in its morphology was observed.

From lower northern latitudes, ground-based lidar continued to detect stratospheric debris from El Chichón, but peak backscattering ratios were smaller and occurred at slightly lower altitudes in October than in September. Farther north, however, new layers have been observed since 3 November over Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany.

Edward M. Brooks resumed daily sunrise and sunset observations from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 26 August. Between April and June, brilliant colors had been visible 40 minutes from sunrise and sunset, indicating material at 20-25 km altitude, but by October, only faint remnants of color could be seen that long before sunrise and after sunset. However, Brooks continued to see unusual colors, although somewhat nearer to sunrise and sunset, and at dawn on 21 October observed a brown NNW-SSE-trending band that looked like volcanic ash at 10° above the ESE horizon. In early November, the timing of the appearance and disappearance of color indicated that the layers being illuminated may have only been in the upper troposphere. H. H. Lamb observed brilliant sunsets from Norwich, England in early and mid-September, but reported that sunset colors were less spectacular, although still usually abnormal, by late October.

Information Contacts: P. McCormick, NASA; T. DeFoor, MLO; M. Hirono, Kyushu Univ., Japan; S. Hayashida and A. Ono, Nagoya Univ., Japan; R. Reiter, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, W. Germany; E. Brooks, Saudi Arabia; H. Lamb, Univ. of East Anglia, England.