Tantrum – The violent eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano in Tonga on January 15, 2022 ‘injected’ an unprecedented amount of water directly into the stratosphere, the equivalent of more than 58,000 Olympic swimming pools.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano released enough “strange water” to fill more than 58,000 Olympic swimming pools.
“Honestly, we’ve never seen such a phenomenon,” said Louis Milne, an atmospheric scientist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
When a volcano erupts, seawater comes into direct contact with lava and becomes very hot. This condition then creates an “explosive vapor”.
TELSAT, Saturday August 6, 2022 Excerpts reported by the New York Post, NASA scientists say the steam will persist for many years and could affect Earth’s global average temperature.
It usually takes about 2-3 years for the steam to dissipate. However, it may take 5-10 years for the water from the January 15, 2022 eruption to evaporate.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai was probably the first volcanic eruption to affect the climate, and not by surface cooling caused by volcanic sulfate aerosols.
“The climate effect is not due to surface cooling from volcanic sulfate aerosols, but rather surface heating,” Milne hypothesizes.
Milne led the study of how much water vapor volcanoes inject into the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere about 12 to 53 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
Milne and his colleagues found that the Tonga volcano sends about 146 tetragrams (1 tetragram equals one trillion grams) of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere.
The amount of water released into the stratosphere is equivalent to 10% of the water already present in the atmosphere. Their research is published in Geophysical Research Letters.
The eruption came from a volcano more than 12 miles wide. The day before the major eruption, the volcano continued to erupt.
Milne and his colleagues report that the Tonga volcano sends material in the form of 3-mile-wide plumes of ash, steam and gas that rise 35 miles into the atmosphere.
The researchers also noted how water vapor can weaken the ozone layer, which protects all life on Earth from harmful solar radiation.
The authors say it is too early to predict the exact climatic effects of the Tonga eruption.
“It is important to continue to monitor the volcanic gases from the eruption,” he concluded.