Volcanic Lightning as a Monitoring Tool during the 2016-2017 Eruption of Bogoslof Volcano, AK

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Bogoslof Volcano, Volcanic Lightning, WWLLN, GLD360


Volcanic lightning commonly occurs during powerful, ash-producing eruptions. Bogoslof Volcano in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska erupted from December 12th 2016 to August 30th 2017. There were 64 explosive events generating ash clouds, some of which impacted aviation and local communities. Approximately half of the eruptions produced volcanic lightning detectable by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN). Detections were provided in near-real-time to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), representing the first time volcanic lightning has been used in operational monitoring efforts nationwide. Lightning activity was later verified in post-analysis by the Vaisala Global Lightning Dataset (GLD360). In this study, we examine volcanic lightning detected by both networks, and analyze the travel direction of the lightning. Our analysis shows that lightning azimuths matched the ash dispersal direction from satellite 64% of the time, and Ash3d model trajectories 78% of the time. This suggests that lightning travel direction can be a useful proxy for ash cloud dispersal in the early stages of eruption detection.

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Presented at the 25th International Lightning Detection Conference & 7th International Lightning Meteorology Conference in March 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL