This year’s explosive eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sent a record quantity of water vapor into the sky and will almost certainly have a discernible impact on global temperatures. The local authorities called the January 15 eruption in the Pacific archipelago country a “unprecedented calamity” because to its effects on the area, which included a tsunami as well as a sonic boom that went around the world twice.
NASA estimates that in addition to sending ash into space, it also released enough water vapor to flood 58,000 Olympic-sized pools. Researchers stated it was “unprecedented” in terms of water vapor injections since satellites started keeping track of such data.
Drone footage, airplane pictures, and even pictures from the ISS all show how enormous this explosion was.
Based on measurements of atmospheric gases made by NASA’s Aura satellite’s Microwave Limb Sounder instrument, it has been determined that the explosion carried around 146 teragrams of water to the stratosphere, which is located between around eight and 33 miles above the Earth’s surface. Extreme quantities of water, measured in teragrams (one teragram is equivalent to one trillion grams), added around 10 percent to the overall water content of the stratosphere.
That’s almost four times as much water vapor as was predicted to be released into the stratosphere by the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines. The extraordinary plume, which scientists claim was more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, might have a short-term impact on the planet’s average temperature, they warn.
Only two earlier eruptions, the 2008 Kasatochi eruption in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile, have transported significant volumes of water vapor to such high altitudes since NASA started gathering data 18 years ago. Both storms rapidly fizzled out, and none came close to the massive volume of water discharged in the Tonga occurrence.
The ensuing ash from large volcanic eruptions often lowers global surface temperatures by reflecting sunlight. The water vapor created by the Tonga eruption, on the other hand, may act as a heat trap.