The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) is a joint program of the United States Geological Survey, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. AVO was formed in 1988, and uses federal, state, and university resources to monitor and study Alaska’s hazardous volcanoes, to predict and record eruptive activity, and to mitigate volcanic hazards to life and property. Use of satellite imagery is a key component in AVO’s monitoring and post-eruption response activities.
GINA provides AVO with real-time satellite data from the AVHRR and MODIS sensors on NOAA and NASA’s polar orbiting satellites. These data are in a suite of tools to track volcanic ash and monitor for thermal hotspots. GINA-provided satellite data are also used to initialize ash transport forecast models such as PUFF .
The Alaska Volcano Observatory provides key services in support of the National Weather Service Alaska Aviation Weather Unit (AAWU), which issues warnings and advisories for air traffic over a huge region covering the Arctic Ocean, Alaska landmass, Aleutian chain, Bering Sea, and North Pacific. These warnings and advisories affect passenger air travel and one of the busiest air cargo routes in the world. Goods flow between Asia and North America on a flight route along the highly active Kamchatka and Aleutian volcanoes, with many stopping at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to refuel. The Anchorage airport is #2 in the US for landed weight of cargo aircraft. (Memphis, the FedEx hub, is #1.)