Simon Carn

Simon Carn


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  • Professor, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences
  • PhD, Volcanology, Cambridge University
  • MS, Volcanology and Magmatic Processes, Université Blaise Pascal
  • BA, Earth Sciences, Oxford University


My current research focus is the application of remote sensing data to studies of volcanic degassing, volcanic eruption clouds, and anthropogenic pollution. Space-borne sensors such as the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite now allow us to probe the chemistry of the lower troposphere and measure the abundance of sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone, bromine monoxide (BrO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other important trace gases with unprecedented sensitivity. The cross-platform sensor synergy provided by NASA’s A-Train satellite constellation is advancing our knowledge of volcanic cloud composition and transport. My main focus is SO2, a precursor of sulfate aerosol, which plays an important role in the atmosphere through negative climate forcing and impacts on cloud microphysics. The spatiotemporal variability of natural and anthropogenic SO2 emissions, and hence of global sulfate aerosol abundance, is poorly constrained, impacting the accuracy of climate models.

Research Interests

  • Using satellite measurements to constrain global volcanic SO2 production and emissions from individual volcanoes
  • Validation of OMI SO2 retrievals using correlative data from ground-based, airborne and space-borne instruments
  • Tracking volcanic SO2 and ash clouds operationally for aviation hazard mitigation
  • Remote sensing of tropospheric volcanic plumes using DOAS and FTIR
  • Quantifying anthropogenic emissions of SO2 from sources such as copper smelters and oil and gas fields
  • Mitigation of the environmental and health impacts of volcanic degassing using satellite data
  • Comparisons between satellite observations and chemical transport model simulations of volcanic clouds and plumes