January Tonga Volcano Eruption Could Eat Ozone Layer, Warm Earth

Nathaniel Scharping writes via Science Magazine: On January 15, Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted beneath the sea and shook the South Pacific nation. sending a tsunami Worldwide racing. that explosion most powerful recorded, creating an atmospheric shock wave that circles the Earth four times and sends a column of debris over 50 km into the atmosphere. But it didn’t stop there. Ashes and gases that pierce the sky expelled billions of kilograms of water into the atmosphere, a new study concludes. The water will probably remain there for several years. It could eat up the ozone layer and possibly the warmer Earth..

In total, the smoke poured about 146 billion kilograms of water into the Earth’s stratosphere, a dry layer of the atmosphere that begins several miles above sea level. Geophysical Research Letters Report This Month. This is equivalent to about 58,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or about 10% of the total water content of the stratosphere. [study co-author and JPL atmospheric scientist Luis Millan] say Other volcanoes have added measurable amounts of water vapor to the Earth’s atmosphere, but this time on an unprecedented scale. It’s likely due to the size and underwater location of the eruption, he says. The water will probably remain in the stratosphere for 50 years or more, he says.

Large volcanic eruptions often cool the climate. The reason is that the sulfur dioxide they emit forms a compound that reflects incoming sunlight. But with so much water vapor rising into the sky, the Tonga eruption could have other effects. Water absorbs energy from the sun, making it a powerful greenhouse gas. And while sulfur dioxide dissipates in just a few years, water will likely remain for at least five years, and potentially longer, Millan thinks. It could make the planet warmer for years and accelerate warming from greenhouse gases. [says Matthew Toohey, a physicist who focuses on climate modeling and the effects of volcanic eruptions at the University of Saskatchewan and was not involved with the work]. “We’re going to go ahead a few years or so.” However, it will take time to understand the real impact on climate. […]. High above Earth, water has the potential to react with other chemicals, potentially breaking down the ozone layer that protects us from UV rays and altering the circulation of air currents that govern weather patterns.

January Tonga Volcano Eruption Could Eat Ozone Layer, Warm Earth

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