Smoke Model

This model was created to forecast the potential impact of smoke from burning biomass and structures caused by the ongoing lava flow from Pu'u 'O'o crater as the lava flow enters communities of lower Puna. As the lava flow advances into communities the potential for deteriorating air quality increases in neighboring areas. The output animation is generated using the HYSPLIT numerical dispersion model. Emissions are estimated based on ground cover and area burned. The amount of PM2.5 emissions due to ground cover is estimated from the VSMOKE utility created at the University of Georgia. The area burned is estimated from Hawaii Volcano Observatory maps of lava outbreaks and advances, and satellite fire detection maps. This is a research effort that is in progress.


Estimating fire emissions is a difficult task given the nature of this problem. Tools and methods used here were developed for wildfires and may not represent burning caused by lava adequately. With this in mind, conservative estimates of area burned are used to create these forecasts. These still suggest high concentrations may exist near the lava flow front and shifting wind directions can transport these into neighboring communities. Since few direct measurements are being taken to validate this effort, refinement of the method is limited. No greyscale legend to describe PM2.5 concentrations is shown for these animations because of the uncertainty of emissions released. If we are able to obtain realistic estimates of emissions then a greyscale legend may be added in the future.


Island of Hawaii Lava Flow Smoke

GIF Loop


For further information on the health effects of wildfire smoke and tips for limiting exposure click here. For information on hazards posed to lower Puna from the lava flow and for information on pahoehoe lava flows click here.