The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), operated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission, provides daily analyses and 5 d forecasts of atmospheric composition, including forecasts of volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO.sub.2) in near real time. CAMS currently assimilates total column SO.sub.2 products from the GOME-2 instruments on MetOp-B and MetOp-C and the TROPOMI instrument on Sentinel-5P, which give information about the location and strength of volcanic plumes. However, the operational TROPOMI and GOME-2 data do not provide any information about the height of the volcanic plumes, and therefore some prior assumptions need to be made in the CAMS data assimilation system about where to place the resulting SO.sub.2 increments in the vertical. In the current operational CAMS configuration, the SO.sub.2 increments are placed in the mid-troposphere, around 550 hPa or 5 km. While this gives good results for the majority of volcanic emissions, it will clearly be wrong for eruptions that inject SO.sub.2 at very different altitudes, in particular exceptional events where part of the SO.sub.2 plume reaches the stratosphere. A new algorithm, developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) for GOME-2 and TROPOMI, optimized in the frame of the ESA-funded Sentinel-5P Innovation-SO.sub.2 Layer Height Project, and known as the Full-Physics Inverse Learning Machine (FP_ILM) algorithm, retrieves SO.sub.2 layer height from TROPOMI in near real time (NRT) in addition to the SO.sub.2 column. CAMS is testing the assimilation of these products, making use of the NRT layer height information to place the SO.sub.2 increments at a retrieved altitude. Assimilation tests with the TROPOMI SO.sub.2 layer height data for the Raikoke eruption in June 2019 show that the resulting CAMS SO.sub.2 plume heights agree better with IASI plume height data than operational CAMS runs without the TROPOMI SO.sub.2 layer height information and show that making use of the additional layer height information leads to improved SO.sub.2 forecasts. Including the layer height information leads to higher modelled total column SO.sub.2 values in better agreement with the satellite observations. However, the plume area and SO.sub.2 burden are generally also overestimated in the CAMS analysis when layer height data are used. The main reason for this overestimation is the coarse horizontal resolution used in the minimizations. By assimilating the SO.sub.2 layer height data, the CAMS system can predict the overall location of the Raikoke SO.sub.2 plume up to 5 d in advance for about 20 d after the initial eruption, which is better than with the operational CAMS configuration (without prior knowledge of the plume height) where the forecast skill is much more reduced for longer forecast lead times.