Logo link to homepage

Report on Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989) — January 1983

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 1 (January 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989) Stratospheric aerosol cloud data to 76°N; unusual sunrises and sunsets

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:1. Smithsonian Institution.

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Aerosol cloud - Instrumental observations. Lidar data continued to show a gradual decrease in both the altitude and intensity of backscatter from the aerosol cloud's densest layer. From Fukuoka, Japan, no notable peak was found above 21 km altitude after 24 January. A single broad layer was detected, with maximum backscatter at 18-19 km. The strongest layer over Mauna Loa, Hawaii remained at about 22 km altitude through early February while the cloud's integrated backscatter declined slowly. A layer between 16.8 and 17.4 km measured 26 January may not have been El Chichón material; it accounted for about 2% of the 26 January integrated backscatter. A 12-16 km layer was detected the same night from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Between 27 January and 5 February, a NASA P-3 Electra aircraft collected aerosol data from 27°N-76°N. The cloud was quite homogeneous from 27-38°N, with peak ruby lidar scattering ratios of roughly 8 at about 20 km altitude. To 55°N, both the upper and lower altitude portions of the aerosol cloud continued to be present, in similar concentrations. As the aircraft approached Greenland at about 55°N and entered the polar vortex, a system circulating air southward from the polar region, the upper aerosol layers disappeared fairly abruptly. However, lower stratospheric material remained, with scattering ratios of 3-8 at 15-16 km altitude, values similar to those at the same altitudes S of 55°N. As the aircraft flew W at 76°N, a similar pattern persisted until it exited the polar vortex at about 100°W, when the upper layer reappeared; scattering ratios ranged from 2-4 at 18-23 km altitude and some material was detected to 30 km altitude. M. P. McCormick noted that these data support information from the SAM II satellite indicating that the lower stratospheric aerosols from El Chichón moved fairly rapidly to the poles but material at higher altitudes has yet to fully penetrate the polar regions.

David Hofmann reported that late January-early February balloon data from Laramie, Wyoming revealed an extensive cloud of aerosols at higher altitudes than previously observed. The base of the layer, at about 29 km altitude, was marked by a boundary zone that was only about 50 m thick. Particle concentrations on 28 January exceeded 600/cm3 at 29 km, compared to normal background values of 1-2/cm3 at that altitude. Enhanced concentrations were measured to about 35 km altitude. A second balloon flight, on 1 February, again penetrated the cloud. The aerosol particles were about 0.02 µm in diameter, too small to be detected by lidar. They had no non-volatile cores and were probably H2SO4 droplets formed in the north polar region from SO2 ejected by El Chichón. Given a wind speed of about 80 km/hour (from the E) at these altitudes, the cloud was at least 8000 km in lateral extent. By a third flight on 4 February, the high-altitude cloud was greatly attenuated.

Gas and particle samples were collected for LANL between the tropopause and 20 km altitude from a WB57-F aircraft that flew from the equator to 75°N in April-May, July-August, and October. Eugene Mroz reports that calculations based on information from these samples, combined with data from balloon launches to 30 km altitude at 33°N and limited sampling to 10°S, yield a mass of 5.68 x 1012 g of sulfate injected into the stratosphere by El Chichón's explosions. Using the same methods, the mass of sulfate in the "mystery cloud" ejected in early January by a volcano that remains unidentified was calculated to be 0.85 x 1012 g.

Unusual sunrises and sunsets. Brilliant sunrises and sunsets continued to be reported from England in early January and Saudi Arabia in late January. However, no unusual colors were seen from Wyoming in January, or from Colorado after mid-January, and sunset colors in New Jersey weakened considerably in late January and early February.

In mid-January, H. H. Lamb reported that during clear days for the previous 3-4 weeks the sun over Norwich, England had increasingly appeared to be surrounded by a white sheen of diffused light extending to about a 20° radius, although there was little apparent diminuition of solar brightness. On 16 December at 1605 GMT, with the sun about 6° below the horizon, a roughly round, vivid purple patch was seen at 20-25° elevation, indicating to Lamb that the layer was at 20-24 km altitude. Twenty minutes later, the W sky was a brilliant orange, changing to fiery red nearer the horizon during the next 20 minutes. A brilliant afterglow continued until 1700, which Lamb interpreted to presumably indicate the presence of aerosol material to 34 km altitude. There were no unusual sunset colors for the next several nights, and cloudy weather made observations after 24 December difficult. Glow was stronger than usual through breaks in the clouds 26 December and on the 28th the increased spread of diffuse white light around the sun throughout the day (see above) began to be obvious. On 9 January at 1630-1635 GMT, with the sun about 5° below the horizon 22-27 minutes after sunset, a vivid magenta-purple area developed at 15-27° elevation above a greenish-pale yellow sky, suggesting an aerosol layer at about 18-20 km altitude. During the next 15-20 minutes, the sky changed to a more normal appearance, but at 1700-1705 a fainter purple patch appeared at 10-15° elevation, suggesting a possible second aerosol layer at about 35 km altitude.

From Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Edward Brooks saw several sunrises in early January that were preceded by two distinct periods of unusual colors. SW-NE-trending bands of volcanic aerosols were seen at dawn 1 January and the next day 2 periods of dawn color were separated by the appearance of dull reddish SSW-NNE-trending volcanic aerosol layers. Similar layers were seen 5 and 6 January in association with 2-stage dawns, and after a period of cloudy weather, on 13 January. Several long-lasting and bright-colored dawns and twilights were observed during the next several days. On 21 January, the second part of a 2-stage dawn included faint N-S bands of volcanic aerosols. When weather conditions permitted, bright dawn and twilight colors were visible until 29 January, then were succeeded by several days of little or no color. A brilliant twilight 2 February was followed by the observation of NNE-SSW-trending bands after sunset 3-4 February that may have been volcanic aerosols. An early dawn 5 February indicated the presence of high-altitude aerosols, but the later stage of dawn color was absent, indicating that no lower altitude material was present.

From Boulder, Colorado, Richard Keen reported that a salmon-colored primary twilight glow visible to solar depression angles of 6-7° preceded the brick-red secondary glow that persisted to 1.5 hours after sunset 11-13 January (7:12; note that 13 January has been added). Keen noted that Volz (1969) described similar double twilights after the 1963 Agung eruption and showed that the later glow can be produced by secondary illumination of the same single layer. Keen therefore suggests that the double twilights that he observed in November and January were caused by a particularly thick layer at about 23 km altitude and that there probably was no 40 km layer. To produce a double twilight, the 23 km layer would have to extend at least 1500 km W of Boulder. Since 13 January, he has seen no unusual twilights. From Laramie, Wyoming, David Hofmann observed no unusual twilight colors since about early January. Fred Schaaf observed numerous double twilights from Millville, New Jersey (39.4°N, 74.9°W) through mid-January, but secondary glow was not present on 19 January and other twilight colors were much weaker. Twilight color remained subdued or absent for the next several days. A rather strong double twilight was visible 28 January, but colors were weaker on succeeding days. Daytime aerosol effects also seemed weaker in January than in December.

Reference. Volz, F. E., 1969, Twilights and stratospheric dust before and after the Agung eruption: Applied Optics, v. 8, p. 2507-2517.

Information Contacts: M. Hirono, Kyushu Univ., Japan; T. DeFoor, MLO; P. McCormick and W. Fuller, NASA; D. Hofmann, Univ. of Wyoming; E. Mroz, LASL; H. Lamb, Univ. of East Anglia, England; E. Brooks, Saudi Arabia; R. Keen, Univ. of Colorado; F. Schaaf, Millville, NJ.