Water ejected by Tonga’s underwater volcano could weaken the ozone layer, scientists warn

TongaA volcanic eruption in January ejected enough water to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools and could weaken the ozone layer.

Scientists studying the amount of water vapor emitted by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano called it “unprecedented”.

The powerful steam was created when sea water in the South Pacific came into contact with lava and “overheated”.

The eruption created sound waves audible Alaska At a distance of 6,200 miles, in a sonic boom that circled the globe twice.

In a new study, experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory predict that the volume of water could be enough to temporarily affect global average temperatures.

It can also temporarily increase chemical reactions in the atmosphere, which will exacerbate ozone depletion.

“We have never seen anything like it,” said atmospheric scientist Dr. Louis Millan.

In a new study, experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory predict that the amount of water ejected during an eruption could be enough to affect global average temperatures.

Shortly before night fell on Tonga, the eruption (lower left) created sound waves heard 6,200 miles from Alaska in a sonic boom that circled the globe twice.

Shortly before night fell on Tonga, the eruption (lower left) created sound waves heard 6,200 miles from Alaska in a sonic boom that circled the globe twice.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, an undersea volcano in the South Pacific, blasted ash and other debris up to 25 miles into the atmosphere during an eruption in January.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, an undersea volcano in the South Pacific, blasted ash and other debris up to 25 miles into the atmosphere during an eruption in January.

In a study published in Geophysical Research LettersDr. Millan and his colleagues estimate that the Tonga eruption releases about 146 million tons of water vapor into the stratosphere.

The stratosphere is the layer of the atmosphere 8 to 33 miles (12 to 53 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.

The water from the January 15 eruption is about 10 percent of the water content already present in the stratosphere.

Comparable volumes of water have been erupted by volcanoes to such high altitudes only twice in the 18 years that NASA has been measuring.

These were the 2008 Casatocha eruption in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile.

The water from these events quickly dissipated, but NASA researchers say liquid from the Tonga volcano can remain in the stratosphere for up to ten years.

Answer: Water vapor entered the stratosphere mainly in the tropics, where there are annual cycles of rising dry and humid air.  The steam from the eruption disrupted this

Answer: Water vapor entered the stratosphere mainly in the tropics, where there are annual cycles of rising dry and humid air. The steam from the eruption disrupted this “heartbeat” signal. B: Near global water vapor time series at 100 and 31 hPa atmospheric pressure using MLS and GOZCARDS data.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai eruption caused many effects such as atmospheric waves, strong winds and unusual electrical currents that were felt around the world and in space.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai eruption caused many effects such as atmospheric waves, strong winds and unusual electrical currents that were felt around the world and in space.

To determine the volume of water vapor, scientists analyzed data from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite.

It measures atmospheric gases, including water vapor and ozone, by observing natural microwave signals emitted by the earth’s atmosphere.

The researchers noticed that the readings increased dramatically after the eruption of the Tonga volcano.

Dr. Millan, who operates the instrument from Pasadena, California, USA, said: “We had to carefully check all measurements in the loop to make sure they were reliable.

“MLS was the only instrument with a dense enough coating to capture the plume of water vapor, and the only one not affected by the ash released by the volcano.”

Ash from Tonga volcano eruption spotted from space

Ash thrown into the air as a result of a powerful underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga was photographed by astronauts of the International Space Station.

NASA shared remarkable images taken from the windows of the ISS dome, showing a layer of ash from plumes ejected thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

The event was so startling that satellites captured the moment of the eruption, and astronauts on the ISS took pictures of plumes and ash sheets over the region.

Read more: Ash from Tonga volcano eruption spotted from space

When water molecules break down in the stratosphere, they release reactive hydrogen oxide molecules.

They react with and destroy ozone on their own, but also convert chlorine gases into other damaging molecules.

Water vapor also traps heat, so the eruption could lead to a temporary warming effect on the Earth’s surface, which the researchers believe could be the first time.

Although it is considered a “greenhouse gas” like carbon dioxide and methane, any warming is not enough to exacerbate the effects of climate change.

This is because heat will be dissipated as excess water is naturally expelled from the stratosphere.

Conversely, previous massive volcanic eruptions, such as Krakatoa, have thrown ash, dust, and gases into the atmosphere that reflect sunlight back into space and create a cooling effect.

In the article, Dr. Millan wrote: “It is very important to continue monitoring volcanic gases from this and future eruptions in order to better quantify their various roles in climate.”

The researchers believe that the Tonga volcano could only produce such a large amount of water vapor because of its precise underwater depth.

Its caldera, a large crater formed when magma began to erupt, is thought to be about 490 feet (150 meters) deep.

If it were slightly shallower, seawater superheated by magma would not be enough to explain the volume of stratospheric water vapor.

However, the greater depth and pressure of the ocean could dampen a strong eruption.

The volcanic island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai was formed as a result of underwater eruptions.  The two islands were joined by an eruption in 2015 to form a single landmass.
Now the only large surface part of the volcano is the uninhabited twin islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Haapai.

Radar studies before and after the eruption show that only small parts of the two uninhabited Tongan islands above the volcano remain – Hunga Tonga and Hunga Haapai.

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE JANUARY ERUPTION OF TONGA?

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, an undersea volcano in the South Pacific, spewed debris up to 25 miles into the atmosphere during an eruption on January 15th.

This set off a 7.4 magnitude earthquake, causing tsunami waves to hit the island, leaving it covered in ash and cut off from outside help.

It also released 5 to 30 megatons (5 to 30 million tons) of TNT, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Digital elevation maps obtained by NASA’s Earth Observatory also show drastic changes in Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, the topmost part of a large underwater volcano.

Prior to the explosion earlier this month, the uninhabited twin islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai were merged into one landmass by a volcanic cone.

Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai are themselves remnants of the northern and western rims of the volcano’s caldera, a depression that forms shortly after the magma chamber empties.

NASA said the eruption “destroyed” a volcanic island about 41 miles (65 km) north of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa, on Tongatapu Island (Tonga’s main island).

It covered an island kingdom of about 100,000 people with a layer of toxic ash, poisoned drinking water, destroyed crops, and completely wiped out at least two villages from the face of the earth.

It also claimed the lives of at least three people in Tonga and killed two beachgoers in Peru after unusual waves hit the South American country.

Peruvian authorities have declared an environmental disaster after waves hit an oil tanker unloading near Lima, leaving a huge slick along the coast.