NASA has said that the water vapo6r plumed by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano into the stratosphere could have a warming effect on Earth’s global average temperature.
Do you know that volcanic eruptions can blast plumes of water vapor into the stratosphere? According to the information provided by NASA Earth, the Hunga Tonga- Ha’apai volcano erupted on January 15 and it has blasted a plume of water vapor into the stratosphere. NASA further informed that this water vapor could have a small, temporary warming effect on Earth’s global average temperature. “When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, it blasted a plume of water vapor into the stratosphere. This extra water vapor, as detected by @NASA’s Aura satellite, could have a small, temporary warming effect on Earth’s global average temperature,” NASA Earth tweeted.
The huge amount of water vapor hurled into the atmosphere, as detected by NASA’s Microwave Limb Sounder, could end up temporarily warming Earth’s surface. Explaining the incident NASA said in a report, “When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, it sent a tsunami racing around the world and set off a sonic boom that circled the globe twice. The underwater eruption in the South Pacific Ocean also blasted an enormous plume of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – enough to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The sheer amount of water vapor could be enough to temporarily affect Earth’s global average temperature.”
In the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, Luis Millan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and his colleagues estimate that the Tonga eruption sent around 146 teragrams (1 teragram equals a trillion grams) of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – equal to 10% of the water already present in that atmospheric layer. That’s nearly four times the amount of water vapor that scientists estimate the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines lofted into the stratosphere.
Millan analyzed data from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite, which measures atmospheric gases, including water vapor and ozone. After the Tonga volcano erupted, the MLS team started seeing water vapor readings that were off the charts.
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It can be known that volcanic eruptions rarely inject much water into the stratosphere. In the 18 years that NASA has been taking measurements, only two other eruptions – the 2008 Kasatochi event in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile – sent appreciable amounts of water vapor to such high altitudes.
But those were mere blips compared to the Tonga event, and the water vapor from both previous eruptions dissipated quickly. The excess water vapor injected by the Tonga volcano, on the other hand, could remain in the stratosphere for several years, informed NASA.
This extra water vapor could influence atmospheric chemistry, boosting certain chemical reactions that could temporarily depletion of the ozone layer. It could also influence surface temperatures. Massive volcanic eruptions like Krakatoa and Mount Pinatubo typically cool Earth’s surface by ejecting gases, dust, and ash that reflects sunlight back into space.
In contrast, the Tonga volcano didn’t inject large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere, and the huge amounts of water vapor from the eruption may have a small, temporary warming effect, since water vapor traps heat. The effect would dissipate when the extra water vapor cycles out of the stratosphere and would not be enough to noticeably exacerbate climate change effects.