When the volcano Hengja Tonga-Hung Hapai erupted below the sea on January 15, 65 kilometers north of the capital metropolis of Tonga, it caused a tsunami and a sonic increase that unfold round the world – twice.
The explosion despatched a protracted plume of water vapor into the stratosphere, which is between 12 and 53 kilometers above the Earth’s floor. The water was sufficient to fill 58,000 Olympic swimming swimming pools, in accordance to NASA satellite tv for pc knowledge.
It was detected by the Microwave Limb Sounder on NASA’s Aura satellite tv for pc. The satellite tv for pc measures water vapor, ozone and different atmospheric gases. When the volcano erupted, scientists had been shocked by the quantity of water vapor.
They estimate that the eruption launched 146 teragrams of water into the stratosphere. A teragram is equal to a trillion grams, and on this case it was equal to 10% of the water already in the stratosphere.
This is 4 instances the quantity of water vapor that reached the stratosphere after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.
“We’ve by no means seen something like this,” research writer Lewis Millan, an aerospace scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a press release. “We had to rigorously test all the measurements in the effectively to ensure that they had been dependable.”
A view of the world
The Microwave Limb Sounder can measure and detect pure microwave indicators from Earth’s ambiance, even by means of ash clouds.
“The MLS was the solely instrument that had enough protection to seize the water vapor because it occurred, and the solely instrument that was not affected by the ash that was ejected by the volcano,” Millan said.
The Ora satellite tv for pc was launched in 2004 and since then has solely measured two volcanic eruptions that despatched giant quantities of water vapor into the ambiance. But water vapor from the 2008 Kasatochi occasion in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile shortly dissipated.
The Tonga eruption was distinctive in that the water vapor despatched into the ambiance traps warmth, which might enhance floor temperatures. According to the researchers, extra water vapor can stay in the stratosphere for a number of years.
Additional water vapor in the stratosphere can even trigger chemical modifications that contribute to the momentary loss of Earth’s protecting layer.
Fortunately, the water vapor temperature is anticipated to be brief and momentary, and can disappear as the extra water vapor dissipates. The researchers don’t assume that will probably be sufficient to enhance the present issues due to local weather change.
The researchers imagine that the predominant motive for the enhance in water vapor was due to the depth of the mountain, 150 meters beneath sea degree.
If the explorers had been deeper, the depth of the ocean the place the eruption would have been, would have been a lot shallower, and the quantity of sea water heated by the rising magma wouldn’t have been comparable to that which reached the stratosphere.
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