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Vitchko Ivanov Tsanev PhD

Vitchko Ivanov Tsanev PhD

Senior Research Associate

Physicist with research interest in the development and application of ground based remote techniques in volcanology, environmental control and atmospheric chemistry



  • 1972-2003: Institute of Electronics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences: from 1992 - Associate Professor; from 1995 - Head of Optical Radiometry Laboratory
  • Since May, 2003: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge – Senior Research Associate
  • Since May, 2007: Department of Chemistrry, University of Cambridge - Senior Research Associate
  • 2009-2010 : Department of Chemistrry and Department of Geography, University of Cambridge – Senior Research Associate
  • 2011-present : Department of Geography, University of Cambridge – Senior Research Associate


  • MSc in Physics (St. Petersburg State University, Department of Physics and Joffe Physical and Technical Institute in St. Petersburg)
  • PhD in Physics (Institute of Electronics - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, "Lidar sounding of the atmospheric aerosol pollution")


Prior to moving to the UK in 2002 I was head of the Optical Radiometry Laboratory of the Institute of Electronics at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. I was responsible for anthropogenic aerosol investigations in urban areas and was co-author of a new method for solution of the lidar equation based on the Phillips-Tikhonov regularization. I developed and implemented methods and software for mapping the spatial distribution of aerosol pollution and for correlation analysis of aerosol extinction and mass concentration accounting for experimental errors in both quantities. I was among the initiators and the lead scientist in several field experiments in Bulgaria and Russia. One key result obtained was the explanation of daily variations of aerosol pollution in a mountain valley (which subsequently influenced a policy decision to close a paper factory). As a member of the joint research team, I obtained a prize for scientific achievements in collaboration between the Bulgarian Academy of Science and Russian Academy of Science for development of lidar methods for remote sensing of the atmosphere.

Since taking up an appointment as Research Associate, then Senior Research Associate in the Department of Geography, I have been mainly focused on remote sensing of volcanic gas and aerosol emissions but have also worked on related problems in measurement and analysis of tropospheric pollutants. My research has included the design and application of several spectroscopic techniques, a selection of which are outlined below.

(i) A set of thermo-stabilized instruments and scanners based on compact ultraviolet spectrometers and the corresponding software for automated control and data collection was developed together with Adrian Hayes. The thermostabilized instrument was utilized in several field campaigns (including at Erta 'Ale volcano, Ethiopia; Manchester airport; Erebus volcano, Antarctica; and for observations of the plume emitted by the Buncefiled depot fire) greatly improving the quality of recorded spectra and accuracy of the retrievals. Special attention was paid to development of two new telescopes: solar occultation and dual-wide field of view. The latter one permits measurement of the gas fluxes of vertical volcanic plumes with simultaneous measurement of plume's drift velocity at a sampling rate of about 1 per second. Currently I am developing a system of automated scanners and corresponding software for Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

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Photographs demonstrating usage of the thermo-stabilized UV spectrometer for volcanic gas composition measurement on Erta 'Ale volcano, Ethiopia, summer 2005 (left), Vulcano (middle) and for measuring aircraft NO2 emissions at Manchester airport, autumn 2005 (right).

Image as described adjacent

New scanner (flat box) being tested alongside with old scanner at Lover Lane on Montserrat.

(ii) The accuracy of DOAS gas emission measurements is a vital issue. In the case of SO2 retrievals, the fitting parameters have a particularly strong impact on the result due to the influence of stray light and the coincidence of the strongest SO2 absorption (at 300 nm) with the edge of the UV-blind region (where there is no downwelling UV). To solve this problem I proposed and implemented an optimization algorithm. The accuracy of retrieval algorithms was investigated by measurements of cells with calibrated SO2 abundances yielding an estimated accuracy of SO2 retrievals of ~5-10%. The lower value corresponds to measurements when the sky is cloudless or overcast with homogeneous clouds, whilst the upper value is reached in the presence of bright, broken clouds.

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Photograph of burning sugar cane field on 4 September 2003. The car used to traverse the plume is visible in the lower left hand corner. Time-distance plot of NO2 columns obtained by interpolation of seven traverses. The thick lines indicate the traverses trajectories.

Image as described adjacent

Image as described adjacent

The photo above shows the Ambrym volcano plume emitted by craters Benbow and Marum. The plot outlies the result of UV DOAS measurements. Plumes were traversed using a light aircraft. SO2 column amounts are presented with squares whilst corresponding SO2/BrO ratios – by circles. Solid curves (no symbols) indicate two Gaussian functions fit to the SO2 column amount data, to represent the individual emissions from Benbow and Marum craters, and the sum of the two Gaussians. The distance scales run from east to west (left to right) and give the projected distance on to the horizontal perpendicular to the plume transport direction

(iii) During the last years Cambridge Volcanology Group performed a set of investigations of volcanic emissions where I was responsible for the accuracy of gas and aerosol retrievals.

(iv) I developed and constructed a novel aerosol lidar (Royal Society Paul Instrument Fund project "Lidar for Analysis of spatial and temporal distribution of Volcanic Aerosol"). The lidar will be able to perform the first systematic and high time-resolution measurements of the spatial and temporal distribution of volcanic aerosol. It will be a highly robust and readily portable instrument, capable of stand-alone, ground-based operation in harsh environmental conditions using remote power sources (small generator). The lidar construction is based on advanced optoelectronics and detector elements.

(v) I am also participant in a few projects in the Department of Chemistry: (a) Development of an imaging DOAS spectrometer and its application for investigation of NO2 aircraft emissions. (b) Investigation of continuum absorption of water vapour in near infrared spectral interval by cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy. (c) Development of a differential absorption lidar for FAAM aircraft.

Image as described adjacent

Imaging DOAS spectrometer employed on the Cranfield airport for measurement of NO2 aircraft emission.



  • Ilyinskaya, E., V. I. Tsanev, R. S. Martin, C. Oppenheimer, J. Le Blond, G.M. Sawyer, M.T, Gudmundsson (2011), Near-source observations of aerosol size distributions in the eruptive plumes from Eyjafjallajoekull volcano, March-April 2010. Atmospheric Environment, 45(18), 3210-3216, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.03.017.
  • Martin, R. S.; E. Ilyinskaya, G.M. Sawyer, V.I. Tsanev, C. Oppenheimer (2011), A re-assessment of aerosol size distributions from Masaya volcano (Nicaragua). Atmospheric Environment, 45(3), 547-560, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.10.049.
  • Sawyer, G.M., G.G. Salerno, J.S. Le Blond, R.S. Martin, L. Spampinato, T.J. Roberts, T.A. Mather, M.L.I. Witt, V.I. Tsanev, C. Oppenheimer (2011), Gas and aerosol emissions from Villarrica volcano, Chile. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 203(1-2), 62-75, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2011.04.003.
  • Boichu,M., C. Oppenheimer, T.J. Roberts, V.I. Tsanev, P.R. Kyle (2011). On bromine, nitrogen oxides and ozone depletion in the tropospheric plume of Erebus volcano (Antarctica). Atmospheric Environment, 45(23), 3856-3866, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.03.027.


  • Boichu, M., C. Oppenheimer, V.I. Tsanev, P.R. Kyle, (2010). High temporal resolution SO2 flux measurements at Erebus volcano, Antarctica. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 190(3-4), 325-336, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.11.020.


  • Bani, P., C. Oppenheimer, V.I. Tsanev, R. Crimp, S. Cronin, J. Calkins, D. Charley, M. Lardy, (2009), Surge in sulphur and halogen degassing from Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu. Bulletin of Volcanology, 71(10), 1159–1168, doi:10.1007/s00445-009-0293-7.
  • Bani, P., C. Oppenheimer, V. Tsanev, M. Lardy, T. Hoibian, M. Allenbach, I. Rouet (2009), Correlation between SO2 emissions rate and S contained in fuel used in a power plant, Noumea, New Caledonia. Proceedings of SPIE, 7149, 71490Y, doi:10.1117/12.804902. doi:10.1117/12.804902.
  • Martin, R.S., T.A. Mather, D.M. Pyle, M. Power, V.I. Tsanev, C. Oppenheimer, A.G. Allen, C.J. Horwell and E.P.W. Ward, (2009), Size distributions of fine silicate and other particles in Masaya's volcanic plume, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres,114(D9), D09217/1-D09217/13, doi:10.1029/2008JD011211.
  • Salerno, G. G., M.R. Burton, C. Oppenheimer, T. Caltabiano, V.I. Tsanev, (2009), N. Bruno. Novel retrieval of volcanic SO2 abundance from ultraviolet spectra. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 181(1-2), 141-153. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.01.009.


  • Witt, M.L.I., T.A. Mather, D.M. Pyle, A. Aiuppa, E. Bagnato, and V.I. Tsanev, (2008), Mercury and halogen emissions from Masaya and Telica volcanoes, Nicaragua. Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth, 113, B06203, doi:10.1029/2007JB005401.
  • Sawyer, G.M., S.A. Carn, V.I. Tsanev, C. Oppenheimer, M. Burton (2008), Investigation into magma degassing at Nyiragongo volcano, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9 (2), Q02017, doi:10.1029/2007GC001829.
  • Sawyer, G. M., C. Oppenheimer, V.I. Tsanev, G. Yirgu, (2008), Magmatic degassing at Erta 'Ale volcano, Ethiopia. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 178(4), 837-846, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.09.017.


  • Mather, T.A., R.G. Harrison, V.I. Tsanev, D.M. Pyle, M.L. Karumudi, A.J. Bennett, G.M. Sawyer and E.J. Highwood, (2007), Observations of the plume generated by the December 2005 oil depot explosions and prolonged fire at Buncefield (Hertfordshire, UK) and associated atmospheric changes. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 463, 1153-1177, 2007, doi:10.1098/rspa.2006.1810.
  • Danov, M.. V. Tsanev, D. Petkov (2207), Spectral emissivity measurement of rocks and rock-forming minerals. Proceedings of SPIE, 6604, 660426-30, doi:10.1117/12.727197.


  • Mather, T.A., D.M. Pyle, V.I. Tsanev, A.J.S. McGonigle, C. Oppenheimer and A.G. Allen, (2006), A reassessment of current volcanic emissions from the Central American arc with specific examples from Nicaragua. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 149, 297-311, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2005.07.021.
  • Oppenheimer, C., V.I.Tsanev, C.F. Braban, R.A. Cox, J.W. Adams, A. Aiuppa, N. Bobrowski, P. Delmelle, , Barclay, J., A.J.S. McGonigle, (2006), BrO formation in volcanic plumes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70(12), 2935-2941, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2006.04.001.
  • Elias, T., A. Jeff Sutton, C. Oppenheimer, K.A. Horton, H. Garbeil, V. Tsanev, A.J.S. McGonigle, and G. Williams-Jones (2006), Comparison of COSPEC and two miniature ultraviolet spectrometer systems for SO2 measurements using scattered sunlight. Bulletin of Volcanology, 68 (4),313-322, doi:10.1007/s00445-005-0026-5.
  • Mori, T., K. Kazahaya, C. Oppenheimer, A.J.S. McGonigle, V. Tsanev, R. Olmos, M. Ohwada, and T. Shuto (2006), Sulphur dioxide fluxes from the volcanoes of Hokkaido, Japan. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 158 (3-4) , 235-243, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores. 2006.04.024.


  • Oppenheimer, C., P.R. Kyle, V.I. Tsanev, A.J.S. McGonigle, T.A. Mather, and D. Sweeney (2005), Mt. Erebus, the largest point source of NO2 in Antarctica. Atmospheric Environment, 39 (32), 6000-6006.
  • Danov. M. and V. Tsanev, (2005). Emissivity of combination of two types of Rocks. Proceedings of SPIE, 5830, doi:10.1117/12.618439.


  • Mather T.A., V.I. Tsanev, D.M. Pyle, A.J.S. McGonigle, C. Oppenheimer, A.G. Allen (2004), Characterization and evolution of tropospheric plumes from Lascar and Villarrica volcanoes, Chile. Journal of Geophysical Research, 109 (D21303), doi:10.1029/2004JD004934.
  • McGonigle, A.J.S., C.L. Thomson, V.I. Tsanev, and C. Oppenheimer (2004). A simple technique for measuring power station SO2 and NO2 emissions. Atmospheric Environment, 38 (1), 21-25. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2003.09.048
  • Oppenheimer C., V. Tsanev, A.G . Allen, A.J.S. McGonigle, A. Cardoso, A. Wiatr, W. Paterlini, and C. De Mello Dias. (2004), NO2 Emissions from Agricultural Burning in São Paulo, Brazil. Environmental Science and Technology, 38 (17), pp 4557 – 4561, 2004, doi: 10.1021/es0496219

2003 and before

  • Iordanova D., V. Sharov, and V. Tsanev, (2003), Validation of Methods for Restoration of the Atmospheric Precipitable Water. Bulgarian Journal of Meteorology & Hydrology, 13(1-2), 121-127.
  • Iliev I., D. Iordaniva, and V. Tsanev (2002), Cloud Type Identification Using the Spectral Content of the Scattered Sun Radiation. Compt. rend. de l′Acad. Bulg. Sci., 55(6), 29-34.
  • Tsanev, V.I., (2002), Review of the Visible and Infrared Atmospheric Radiation Investigations During Total Solar Eclipses: Instrumentation, Results, Analytical Models and Prospects. In: First Results of 1999 Total Eclipse Observations. Edited by Acad. D.N. Mishev and Prof. K.J.H. Phillips. Professor Marin Drinov Academic Publishing House, Sofia, 2002, pp 165-178.
  • Iliev, D. Mishev, I. Genkova, E. Angelova, and V. Tsanev, (2000), Influence of Clouds on the Downwelling Scattering Radiation in the Near IR Spectral Range. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. Bulg. Sci., 53(8), 29-32.
  • Mishev, D., I. Iliev, K. Kirilov, V. Tsanev, (2000), Accuracy of the Method for Elimination of the Aerosol Influence on the Spectroscopic Atmospheric Total Water Vapour Content Determination. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. Bulg. Sci., 53(8), 21-24.
  • Roussev P.K., K.P. Kirilov, and V.I. Tsanev, (2000), Numerical Computation of Two Dimensional Integrals in Modelling of the Optical Radiation Propagation in the Atmosphere. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. bulg. Sci., 53(8), 13-16.
  • Tsanev V.I., (2000), Investigation of the Visible and Infrared Atmospheric Radiation During the Total Solar Eclipse on August 1999: I. Preliminary Results, Compt. rend. de l'Acad. bulg. Sci., 53(7), 51-54.
  • Tsaneva V.N., V.I. Tsanev, E.J. Tarte, Z.H. Barber, F. Kahlmann, M.G. Blamire, J.E. Evetts, (2000), Study of the Radiative Heating for Deposition of High-Tc Superconducting Thin Films. Vacuum, 58(2-3), 454-463. doi:10.1016/S0042-207X(00)00205-0
  • Ferdinandov, E.S., Ts.A. Mitsev, V.I. Tsanev, (1998), Remote Sensing of Temperature Distribution on Non-homogeneous Surface in the Thermal Infrared Range. Infrared Physics and Technology, 39(2), 93-101. doi:10.1016/S1350-4495(97)00048-0
  • Genkova, I. and V. Tsanev, (1998), Radiometric Investigation of the Thermal Structure of Cloud Field Bottom. Proceedings of SPIE, 3571, 292-296. doi:10.1117/12.347638
  • Kirilov, K., P. Rusev , V. Tsanev, (1998), Analytical Description of the Downwelling Sky Radiation During Total Solar Eclipse. Proceedings of SPIE, 3571, 282-286. doi:10.1117/12.347635
  • Popov, G., P. Vlaev, V. Tsanev, (1998), Three Channel Logarithmic Visible Radiometer. Proceedings of SPIE, 3571, 322-326. doi:10.1117/12.347644
  • Tomov, R.I., V. P. Manolov, P. A. Atanasov, V. N. Tsaneva, D. G. Ouzounov, V. I. Tsanev, (1997), Experimental and Theoretical Investigation of Cumulative Laser Irradiation Effects in YBCO Thin Film Pulsed Laser Deposition. Physica. C, 274, 187-196. doi:10.1016/S0921-4534(96)00668-5
  • Pachedjieva, B., V. Tsanev, E. Ferdinandov, (1996), Time Mutability Method for Cloud Field Drift Velocity Measurements. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. bulg. Sci., 49(3), 49-51.
  • Iliev, I.Tz.,V.I. Tsanev, D.N. Mishev, V.N. Dermendjiev, (1996), Statistical Analysis of Meteorological Data Along the Path of 1999 Total Solar Eclipse in Bulgaria. Romanian Astronomical Journal, 6, Supplement, 91-95.
  • Tomov, V. Tsaneva, V. Tsanev, D. Ouzounov, (1996), Prolonged Laser Ablation Effects of YBCO Ceramic Targets During Thin Film Deposition: Influence of Processing Parameters, Journal of Low Temperature Physics, 105, 1307-1312. doi:10.1007/BF00753881
  • Asimov, M.M., A.D. Deleva, Z.Y. Peshev, M.N. Nenchev, V.I. Tsanev, T.B. Patrikov, (1995), Two-wavelength Microsecond-Time-Delayed Pulsed Operation of a Flash-lamp Pumped Titanium:Sapphire Laser. Infrared Physics and Technology, 36(3), 735-740. doi:10.1016/1350-4495(94)00109-X
  • Todorov, B.O., V.I. Tsanev, V.N. Velev, (1995), Pattern Recognition of Cloudy Sky Images Sounded with Ground-based Optical Radiometer. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. bulg. Sci., 48(2), 37-39.
  • Ferdinandov, E.S. and V.I. Tsanev, (1993), Mathematical Modelling of the Apparatus Channel of an Infrared Remote Sensing System. Infrared Physics, 34(5), 457-466.
  • Tsanev. V.I. and D.L. Vandev, (1988), Regression analysis of aerosol extinction coefficient on aerosol mass concentration accounting for experimental errors. Atmospheric Optics, 1(2) 32-37 (In Russian).
  • Nenchev, M.N., A.I. Gizbrekht, V.I. Tsanev, (1987), Dye Laser Pumped by Compressed Laser Pulses. Optics Communications, 62(5), 333-338. doi:10.1016/0030-4018(87)90300-2
  • Zuev, V.E., B.V. Kaul, I.V. Samokhvalov, K.I. Kirkov, V.I. Tsanev, (1986). Lidar sounding of industrial aerosols. Novosibirsk, Nauka, 188 pp. (in Russian).
  • Tsanev, V.I., K.V. Apostolov, T.B.Krustev, R.I. Simeonov, N.T. Kovacheva, I.A. Lanzov, (1986), Laser Radar Application in Studying the Aerosol Space Distribution. Bulgarian Journal of Physics., 13(6), 551-561.
  • Momerov, N.N., V.I. Tsanev, (1983), A Possibility to Regularize the Solution of the Lidar Equation in the Case of Single-Frequency Sounding. Bulgarian Journal of Physics, 10(4), 454-467.
  • Kavkyanov, S.I., N.N. Momerov, V.I. Tsanev, (1982), Regularizing the Solution of the Laser Sounding Equation of Atmospheric Aerosols by means of Stabilizing Functional. Compt. rend. de l'Acad. bulg. Sci., 35(12), 1661-1663.


  • Theory of optoelectronic devices and systems - Technical University Sofia - Plovdiv Branch
  • Basics of optoelectronics - Technical University Sofia
  • Optoelectronic systems for ecological control - Technical University Sofia - Plovdiv Branch
  • IB Paper 6. Earth observation (Physics of remote sensing), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • Mphil in GIS & Remote Sensing (Physics of remote sensing), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • Mphil in GIS & Remote Sensing (spectroscopy measurements of atmospheric trace gases), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

External activities

  • Member of SPIE