Researchers from Université de La Réunion have installed a Delta-T Devices Sunshine Pyranometer as part of a weather station on the crater’s edge of one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The volcano, named Piton de la Fournaise “Peak of the Furnace” lies on the south-eastern side of Reunion Island, a French island in the Indian Ocean.
The volcano is 530,000 years old and erupted as recently as May 26th 2016. 4,700 years ago it produced a huge eruption – believed to be of similar magnitude to that of Mount St Helens in 1980.
The volcano is constantly monitored by a range of geophysical sensors, which send data to the OVPF (Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise). Long term monitoring by two downward-looking infra-red video cameras is now supplemented by an upward-looking SPN1 Sunshine Pyranometer. Data from the SPN1 will be used to help eliminate the effect of solar radiation on the infra-red camera readings.
On June 13th 2016, Patrick Jeanty and research colleagues from the Université de La Réunion’s LE2P team (LE2P: Laboratory of Energetic, Electronic and Processes), ascended the volcano. It took one and a half hour to reach the rim of the crater at an elevation of 2587m. Each team member carried about 20kg of equipment.
The LE2P team is well placed to assist with this research. By installing monitoring stations (each including an SPN1 Pyranometer) at a number of locations around Reunion Island, they have been able to develop short term forecasting (nowcasting) models – enabling the efficient regulation of the electricity grid.
The volcano weather station and SPN1 will remain in position for a full year – and its data will be compared with an identical station at the OVPF (volcano monitoring) main office in Bourg-Murat.