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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 2807-2828, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-2807-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
03 Sep 2014
Retrieval of sulfur dioxide from a ground-based thermal infrared imaging camera
A. J. Prata and C. Bernardo Nicarnica Aviation AS, Kjeller, Norway
Abstract. Recent advances in uncooled detector technology now offer the possibility of using relatively inexpensive thermal (7 to 14 μm) imaging devices as tools for studying and quantifying the behaviour of hazardous gases and particulates in atmospheric plumes. An experimental fast-sampling (60 Hz) ground-based uncooled thermal imager (Cyclops), operating with four spectral channels at central wavelengths of 8.6, 10, 11 and 12 μm and one broadband channel (7–14 μm) has been tested at several volcanoes and at an industrial site, where SO2 was a major constituent of the plumes. This paper presents new algorithms, which include atmospheric corrections to the data and better calibrations to show that SO2 slant column density can be reliably detected and quantified. Our results indicate that it is relatively easy to identify and discriminate SO2 in plumes, but more challenging to quantify the column densities. A full description of the retrieval algorithms, illustrative results and a detailed error analysis are provided. The noise-equivalent temperature difference (NEΔT) of the spectral channels, a fundamental measure of the quality of the measurements, lies between 0.4 and 0.8 K, resulting in slant column density errors of 20%. Frame averaging and improved NEΔT's can reduce this error to less than 10%, making a stand-off, day or night operation of an instrument of this type very practical for both monitoring industrial SO2 emissions and for SO2 column densities and emission measurements at active volcanoes. The imaging camera system may also be used to study thermal radiation from meteorological clouds and the atmosphere.

Citation: Prata, A. J. and Bernardo, C.: Retrieval of sulfur dioxide from a ground-based thermal infrared imaging camera, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 2807-2828, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-2807-2014, 2014.
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