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Peeping TOMS sees volcanic plumes.

Peeping TOMS sees volcanic plumes

About four years ago, atmospheric physicist Arlin J. Krueger and his colleagues at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., were puzzled by a large blob in the map made from data recorded by the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) aboard the Nimbus-7 statellite as it passed over Mexico. According to the computer, the blob was not due to ozone. Then the researchers realized they were looking at a plume of sulfur dioxide from the El Chichon volcano. And TOMS became not only a way to map atmospheric ozone but also a powerful tool for observing eruptions from space.

Krueger's group has now used TOMS to follow eruptions from 16 volcanoes. Since sulfur dioxide plumes are unique to volcanoes, scientists have a much easier time spotting eruptions with TOMS than by looking at cloud shapes with conventional imaging from weather satellites, says Krueger. Unfortunately, he adds, the eight-year-old TOMS "is beginning to act a little sick,' and there are no formal plans to replace it.
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Title Annotation:Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
Author:Weisburd, Stefi
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 7, 1986
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