Science

Eruption of Hung Tonga-Hunga Haapai

Eruption of Hung Tonga-Hunga Haapai

Tonga Eruption Elevation Map

Animation exhibiting the calculated top of the eruption utilizing knowledge from three climate satellites. By Simeon Schmaus / Japan Meteorological Company / Korea Meteorological Administration / Nationwide Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

A brand new evaluation led by Oxford College researchers has proven that the devastating eruption of Hung Tonga-Hunga Haapai in January 2022 created the very best volcanic plume ever recorded. At an altitude of 57 km (35 mi), the ash cloud produced by the eruption can be the primary to be noticed within the mesosphere, the layer of the ambiance extra generally related to taking pictures stars.

Utilizing satellite tv for pc photos, researchers confirmed that the January 2022 eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano produced the tallest plume on report. The colossal eruption can be the primary immediately noticed one to interrupt by to the mesospheric layer of the ambiance. The outcomes obtained by a bunch of scientists from[{” attribute=””>University of Oxford’s Department of Physics and RAL Space, were published on November 3 in the journal Science.

On January 15, 2022, Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, a submarine volcano in the Tongan archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean, violently erupted. The explosion was one of the most powerful ever observed, sending shock waves around the world and triggering devastating tsunamis that left thousands homeless. A towering column of ash and water was ejected into the atmosphere – but until now, scientists lacked an accurate way to measure just how tall this was.

Tonga Eruption Full Earth Disk Himawari 8 Satellite

The full Earth disk seen by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite, the volcanic eruption is in the lower right. Credit: Simon Proud / Uni Oxford, RALSpace NCEO / Japan Meteorological Agency.

Normally, the height of a volcanic plume can be estimated by measuring the temperature recorded at the top by infrared-based satellites and comparing this to a reference vertical temperature profile. This is because in the troposphere (the first and lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere), temperature decreases with height. But if the eruption is so large that the plume penetrates into the next layer of the atmosphere (the stratosphere), this method becomes ambiguous because the temperature begins to increase again with height (due to the ozone layer absorbing solar ultraviolet radiation).


Magnified view of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption on January 15, 2022, captured by NOAA’s GOES-17 climate satellite tv for pc. By Simon Proud and Simeon Schmaus / College of Oxford, RALSpace NCEO / NOAA

To beat this downside, the researchers used a brand new methodology based mostly on a phenomenon known as the “parallax impact.” That is an apparent distinction within the place of the thing when seen from a number of traces of sight. You may see for your self by closing your proper eye and holding out your hand with the thumb up. When you then swap eyes in order that the left is closed and the fitting is open, your thumb will seem to shift barely within the background. By measuring the obvious change in place and mixing this with the identified distance between the eyes, you may calculate the gap to the thumb.

Tonga 10 minutes after the eruption began

A magnified view of the eruption taken by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite tv for pc at 04:10 UTC on January 15, 2022, about 10 minutes after the eruption started. Credit score: Simon Proud / College of Oxford, RALSpace NCEO / Japan Meteorological Company

The placement of the Tonga volcano is roofed by three geostationary climate satellites, so the researchers have been in a position to apply the parallax impact to the aerial images taken by them. Importantly, throughout the eruption itself, the satellites recorded photos each 10 minutes, permitting the fast modifications within the trajectory of the plume to be documented.

The outcomes confirmed that the plume reached a top of 57 kilometers (35 miles) at its highest level. That is considerably greater than the earlier report holders: the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatuba within the Philippines (40 km / 25 miles at its highest level) and the 1982 eruption of El Chichon in Mexico (31 km / 19 miles). It additionally makes the plume the primary observational proof {that a} volcanic eruption injects materials by the stratosphere and immediately into the mesosphere, which begins about 50 km (31 mi) above the Earth’s floor.

Tonga 50 minutes after the eruption began

A magnified view of the eruption taken by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite tv for pc at 04:50 UTC on January 15, 2022, about 50 minutes after the eruption started. Credit score: Simon Proud / College of Oxford, RALSpace NCEO / Japan Meteorological Company

“That is the primary time we’ve got recorded a volcanic plume reaching the mesosphere. Krakatoa within the 1800s may have performed it too, however we’ve not seen it in sufficient element to verify it,” mentioned Dr Simon Proud, senior scientist on the Nationwide Earth Commentary Middle on the College of Oxford and the Science and Know-how Council. ectach Object RAL House.

“That is a unprecedented consequence as a result of we’ve got by no means seen a cloud this excessive earlier than,” added Proud. “Moreover, having the ability to estimate altitude the way in which we did (utilizing the parallax methodology) is simply potential now that we’ve got good satellite tv for pc protection. Ten years in the past, this is able to have been unattainable.”

Tonga 100 minutes after the eruption began

Magnified view of the eruption taken by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite tv for pc at 05:40 UTC on January 15, 2022, about 100 minutes after the eruption started. Credit score: Simon Proud / College of Oxford, RALSpace NCEO / Japan Meteorological Company

Oxford researchers now intend to construct an automatic system to calculate the heights of volcanic plumes utilizing the parallax methodology.

Co-author Dr Andrew Pratt, from the Division of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, added: “We’d additionally like to use this method to different eruptions and develop a dataset of plume heights that volcanologists and atmospheric scientists can use to mannequin the dispersion of volcanic ash within the ambiance. Different scientific questions we want to perceive are: Why did the Tonga plume rise so excessive? What would be the penalties of this eruption for the local weather? And what precisely was the plume made from?”

Reference: “Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai’s January 2022 eruption reaches the mesosphere” by Simon R. Proud, Andrew T. Pratt, and Simeon Schmaus, November 3, 2022. Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abo4076

Along with the College of Oxford, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Nationwide Middle for Earth Commentary in Harwell, in addition to the Munich College of Utilized Sciences, additionally participated within the examine.

The three satellites used to seize and assess the eruption have been GOES-17 (USA), Himawari-8 (Japan), and GeoKompSat-2A (Korea). The open entry knowledge was processed by the UK’s Jasmin supercomputer on the Science and Know-how Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.




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