Skip to Main Content
Active remote sensing retrieval from ground, in terms of detection, estimation and sensitivity, of volcanic ash plumes is not only dependent on the sensors' specifications, but also on the range and ash cloud distribution. The minimum detectable signal can be increased, for a given system and ash plume scenario, by decreasing the observation range and increasing the operational frequency using a multi-sensor approach, but also exploiting possible polarimetric capabilities. This work, starting from the results of a previous study and from above mentioned issues, is aimed at quantitatively assessing the optimal choices for microwave and millimeter-wave radar systems with a dual-polarization capability for real-time ash cloud remote sensing to be used in combination with an optical lidar. The physical-electromagnetic model of ash particle distributions is systematically reviewed and extended to include non-spherical particle shapes, vesicular composition, silicate content and orientation phenomena. The radar and lidar scattering and absorption response is simulated and analyzed in terms of self-consistent polarimetric signatures for ash classification purposes and correlation with ash concentration and mean diameter for quantitative retrieval aims. A sensitivity analysis to ash concentration, as a function of sensor specifications, range and ash category, is carried out trying to assess the expected multi-sensor multi-spectral system performances and limitations.