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Hawaii lava flow and fireExplosive volcanic eruptions pose both short-term and long-term hazards. Lava flows and lahars can wipe out the flanks of mountainsides. Volcanic ash can blanket the landscape for miles, and ash clouds can disrupt aircraft travel, such as the incident in 1989 when ash from Alaska's Redoubt volcano temporarily disabled a passenger airplane. On longer time scales, eruptions can inject massive quantities of ash into the atmosphere, greatly reducing the solar heating of the Earth and potentially interrupting the global food supply for several years.

In 1991, mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, and strong winds spread the aerosol particles from the plume around the globe. The result was a measurable cooling of the Earth's surface for a period of almost two years. The role of natural hazards research and developing applications to mitigate the effects of disasters has global implications for reducing loss and saving lives.

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Global inventory of active volcanoes
  • Volcanic activity warning system
  • Further define the relationship between deformation, seismicity, intrusions, and eruptions
  • Forecasting of volcanic activity on progressively longer timescales

Practical Benefit to Society:

  • Hazard mitigation due to improved volcanic activity warnings
  • Advanced planning for effects on populations near volcanically active regions
  • Detection of ash and plume products for warnings for airline industry

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Scientific challenges   Updates on active volcanoes
Effect on society   Global map of volcanoes
NASA's applications   Observational strategies
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