The eruption of a volcano in Tonga, a group of about 170 islands in the Pacific Ocean, could increase global temperatures.
According to the study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Science, the large amount of water vapor emitted by the violent eruption could lead to a small increase in global warming lasting months.
On January 15, at least 6 people were killed by the violent eruption of the Hunga Tonga Volcano on Hunga Ha’apai Island and the tsunami that followed.
Approximately 80 kilometers long submarine telecommunication cable was also damaged in the natural disaster, and telephone and internet lines were cut in the country.
Following the eruption, a “tsunami” warning was issued for Tonga, as well as New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Chile and Japan.
NASA researchers announced that the intensity of the volcanic eruption was equivalent to about 10 megatons of TNT.
In a study published in July, it was written that 160 million tons of water vapor was sprayed into the atmosphere by the eruption. The study analyzed data from the Microwave Limb Sounder on NASA’s Aura satellite.
Holger Vömel of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, lead author of the newly published paper, and his team used data from a balloon-borne radiosonde. A radiosonde is a device equipped with instruments used to determine the values of factors such as pressure, temperature, wind and relative humidity at high levels, and transmits the information to a ground station via radio signals.
The findings showed that at least 55 million tons of water vapor was sent into the stratosphere after the explosion. Experts said this led to a temporary further depletion of the ozone layer.
Water vapor, like carbon dioxide, absorbs heat from the Earth’s surface and re-radiates it. So large amounts of water vapor can increase global warming for several years until the gas dissipates. But exactly how much the Earth’s surface will warm is unknown.
Experts also said that an increase in the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere and the passage of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere could lead to cooling in this layer.
“It is absolutely unique,” Vömel said, adding that the amount of water vapor emitted is at least 55 million tons and the actual figure could be twice as much as their estimates.
New York Times, Live Science,