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Volcano’s giant eruption did something unprecedented, says NASA

The blast was astonishing.

When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, it despatched shock waves across the planet. The imagery awed earth scientists. And now, researchers have discovered the eruption pumped sufficient water vapor into the environment to fill a whopping 58,000 swimming swimming pools — an quantity by no means earlier than noticed.

The water reached a layer of the environment referred to as the stratosphere, increased than the place large jetliners fly. The stratosphere exists between some eight to 33 miles above Earth’s floor.


“We’ve never seen anything like it.”

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Luis Millán, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who led the new research, said in a statement. Millán and his team used observations from NASA’s Aura satellite, an instrument that tracks gases in Earth’s atmosphere, to confirm the extreme water injection into the atmosphere.

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an ash plume from the the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption


Credit: NASA

All that water from a single eruption could have a planetary, although small and momentary, local weather influence. That’s as a result of water vapor is a greenhouse gasoline, which means it traps warmth on the planet, just like carbon dioxide, which is now skyrocketing in Earth’s environment. This water vapor influence will “not be enough to noticeably exacerbate climate change effects,” NASA stated.

(Today’s local weather change is basically pushed by human actions, not pure occasions like volcanic eruptions.)

Where did this bounty of water — which was almost 4 instances the quantity the colossal 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo blew into the stratosphere — come from? Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is a submarine volcano, which means the basin the place the eruption happens is underwater. It lies almost 500 ft beneath the floor, giving the eruption huge quantities of water to violently blow into the sky.

If the eruption occurred deeper, the big mass of seawater would have “muted” this immensely explosive eruption, NASA famous. But all the precise components got here collectively, making a blast that continues to amaze scientists.

Earth is wild.