The eruption of the Tonga volcano created the tallest ash column ever captured by satellite (video)


February 19, 2022 08:08 GMT

“The intensity of this phenomenon is greater than any storm cloud I have ever studied,” said NASA meteorologist Christopher Petka.

One recently published by scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center Report They promise that the ash pillar has risen 58 kilometers at its highest point since the eruption of the Hanga Tonga-Hunga Ha’bai volcano in Tonga on January 15 and reached the mesosphere, the third layer of the atmosphere. In this way, it became the tallest volcanic eruption captured by satellites.

The researchers analyzed data from NOAA’s Geo-Operational Satellite-17 (GOES-17) and the Japan Space Agency’s (JAXA) Glacier-8, which were operating in geostationary orbit and were “in a unique position” to observe the eruption.

“The intensity of this phenomenon is greater than any storm cloud I have ever studied,” said Christopher Bedka, a NASA meteorologist who specializes in the study of extreme storms. “We are lucky that our latest generation of geostationary satellites have seen it so well and can use this data in innovative ways to document its evolution,” he added.

Before the eruption in Tonga, they pointed out from the space agency that the largest volcano known in the “satellite era” came from Mount Pinatubo, which in 1991 spewed up to 35 kilometers of ash and gas in the Philippines.

“When volcanic material reaches a very high stratosphere, the wind is not so strong that volcanic ash, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and steam are carried around the earth,” explained NASA Langley team scientist Konstantin Globenkov.

In fact, according to satellite data, the main column of volcanic material emitted by Tonga in two weeks went around the world.

For his part, Kazan Taha, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Aviation Center, pointed out that Bloom’s aerosols remain in the stratosphere for more than a month and may remain there for a year or more.

While volcanic eruptions affect local and global climates, Taha noted that the Tonga volcanic bloom is unlikely to produce significant climatic effects because of the low levels of gaseous sulfur dioxide known as “volcanic winters”.

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