1Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique, UMR8518, CNRS-INSU, Université Lille 1, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
2Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Laboratoire Océanographie de Villefranche, 06230, Villefranche sur Mer, France
3CNRS, Laboratoire Océanographie de Villefranche, 06230, Villefranche sur Mer, France
4Institut Universitaire de France, 103, boulevard Saint-Michel 75005 Paris, France
Abstract. Total and polarized radiances provided by the Polarization and Directionality of Earth Reflectances (POLDER) satellite sensor are used to retrieve the microphysical and optical properties of the volcanic plume observed during the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010, over cloud-free and cloudy ocean scenes. We selected two plume conditions, fresh aerosols near the sources (three cases) and a downwind volcanic plume observed over the North Sea 30 h after its injection into the atmosphere (aged aerosols). In the near-source conditions, the aerosol properties depend on the distance to the plume. Within the near-source plume, aerosols are mainly non-spherical and in the coarse mode with an effective radius equal to 1.75 (±0.25) μm and an Ångström exponent (AE) close to 0.0. Far from the plume, in addition to the coarse mode, there are particles retrieved in the accumulation mode, suggesting a mixture of sulfate aerosols and volcanic dust, resulting in an AE around 0.8. The properties of the aerosols also depend on whether the plume is fresh or aged. For the downwind (aged) plume, if non-spherical coarse particles as well as some fine mode particles are retrieved, the AE is higher, around ~0.4. In addition, rather low values for the real part of the refractive index (RR) were retrieved for the fresh plume (1.38 < RR < 1.48). Single scattering albedo (SSA) values ranging between 0.92 and 0.98 were retrieved over some parts of the near-source plume; despite the low accuracy of our retrievals, the derived SSA values suggest that the ash particles are rather absorbing. To consider the particle shape, a combination of spheroid models was used. Although the employed model enabled accurate modeling of the POLDER signal in the case of non-spherical ash, our approach failed to model the signal over the optically thickest parts of the near-source plume. The most probable reason for this is the presence of ice crystals within the plume. For the aerosol above clouds (AAC) scenes, polarized measurements allowed the retrieval of the optical thickness (OT) and the AE of optically thin volcanic ash. We found that all the cloud parameters retrieved by passive sensors were biased due to the presence of the elevated volcanic plumes. Finally, thermal infrared measurements were used to identify the type of multilayer scene (cirrus clouds or volcanic dust above liquid clouds) and the retrieval method also provided the OT of thin cirrus layers above the clouds near Iceland.