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Many volcanoes around the world are poorly monitored and new eruptions increase the need for rapid ground-based monitoring, which is not always available in a timely manner. Initial observations therefore are commonly provided by orbital remote sensing instruments at different temporal, spatial and wavelength scales. Even at well-monitored volcanoes, satellite data still play an important role. The ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission Radiometer) orbital sensor provides moderately high spatial resolution images in multiple wavelength regions; however, because ASTER is a scheduled instrument, the data are not acquired over specific targets every orbit. Therefore, in an attempt to improve the temporal frequency of ASTER specifically for volcano observations and to have the images integrate synergistically with high temporal resolution data, the Urgent Request Protocol (URP) system was developed in 2004. Now integrated with both the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) hotspot monitoring programmes, the URP acquires an average of 24 volcanic datasets every month and planned improvements will allow this number to increase in the future. New URP data are sent directly to investigators responding to the ongoing eruption, and the large archive is also being used for retrospective science and operational studies for future instruments. The URP Program has been very successful over the past decade and will continue until at least 2017 or as long as the ASTER sensor is operational. Several volcanic science examples are given here that highlight the various stages of the URP development. However, not all are strictly focused on effusive eruptions. Rather, these examples were chosen to demonstrate the wide range of applications, as well as the general usefulness of the higher resolution, multispectral data of ASTER.

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