Effectively, outfitted drones are aiding scientists get nearer to active volcanoes in a bid to quantify and better gauge their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

 As part of the ABOVE (Aerial based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) project using drones with micro gas-sampling assembly, researchers have been in a position to quantify emissions of Manam and Rabaul volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. These active volcanoes pose acute dangers in accessing by traditional ground-based technologies.

The data so taken leads to our simplification of the global carbon cycle and the natural release of carbon dioxide from volcanoes.

A senior research associate at the aerospace engineering department at the University of Bristol, UK, who is employed with aerial robotics for distant sensing of the environment, says the latest work focused on quantifying the carbon dioxide flux released by Manam.

Manam, previously detected as among the highest ten emitters of sulphur dioxide based on satellite data, was doubted to be contributing significantly to carbon dioxide as well. The findings were published 30 October in Science Advances.

According to the researchers, volcanic releases are crucial to the Earth’s carbon cycle. But carbon dioxide measurements have so far been restrained to a comparatively minute number of the world’s estimated 500 active degassing volcanoes. Measurements need to be collated very near to active vents and, for perilous volcanoes like Manam; drones are seen to be as the only non-violent solution.

Consequently, resolving the ratio between sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide in a volcano’s emission is crucial in forestalling when a volcanic eruption is likely to vent. These researchers could do well by capturing gas samples and scrutinize them within few hours by flying drones at no more than a height of two kilometers. The drones are mounted with gas sensors, spectrometers, and direct sampling devices.

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