NicAIR is a thermal infrared imaging camera used to measure gases and particles in the atmosphere from a safe distance (ground based up to 20 Km) and can operate 24 hours a day. The technology uses an uncooled microbolometer detector array and up to five spectral channels at various wavelengths to measure heat.NILU developed the algorithms which allow NicAirs to use these temperature differences at specific wavelengths to determine the amount of ash in the atmosphere.
NicAIR can identify hazardous volcanic ash particles (silicates) and dangerous SO2 gas in the atmosphere. The information will be used to warn the public when these hazardous substances are in the vicinity and can also be used by general aviation to avoid volcanic clouds. The measurements will help us to understand the effects of volcanic gases and particles on our climate.
NicAIR has been tested at industrial plants that emit SO2 and at volcanoes in Sicily (Mt Etna and Stromboli), in Papua New Guinea (Tavurvur), in Hawaii (Kiluwea) and in the Northern Mariana Islands (Anatahan).