Monitoring Volcanic Ash and Impacts on Agriculture: CSA, NASA and World Bank Cooperation

Within the framework of the international Committee on satellite Earth Observation (CEOS), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is collaborating with NASA on various projects helping to monitor, manage and respond to natural disasters. This partnership offers CSA and NASA the opportunity to share Earth Observation (EO) data acquired by Canadian and American satellites for the purpose of scientific research and operational applications. During the June 2011 eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon-Callue volcano (Chile), large amounts of ash and pumice were ejected into the atmosphere and subsequently deposited over large areas, threatening the health of many people. In Argentina, volcanic ash fall affected agriculture land as well as urban areas, such as Bariloche, Villa la Angostura, Neuquen and even the capital Buenos Aires. Argentina declared a health emergency and advised people in affected areas to stay indoors. The Ministry of Agriculture of Argentina requested assistance from the World Bank to determine the extent of the ash and its impact on the agriculture lands. The World Bank worked with CSA's Earth Observation Applications and Utilizations (EOAU) division and NASA to obtain EO satellite information related to the volcanic eruption. CSA has planned for the acquisition of several RADARSAT-2 scenes over the Puyehue-Cordon-Callue area in Chile and over some ash fall areas in Argentina and offered additional EO-related information with regard to ash fall. NASA provided access to MODIS as well as EO-1 ALI and Hyperion data. Based on the analysis of satellite data, geomatics experts at the World Bank were able to produce an initial regional map showing the enormous aerial extent of ash clouds observed daily over parts of Chile and Argentina for most of the month of June, 2011.