Eruption of the Tonga volcano was so powerful that it reached the ionosphere

(ORDO NEWS) — The ongoing volcanic eruption in Tonga began in December 2021, but the powerful explosion did not occur until 17:15 local time on January 15, 2022.

It created a huge cloud of ash, earthquakes and tsunamis that reached the far coast of Peru on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Now scientists are even looking for the consequences of the eruption in space.

The eruption column reached the Earth‘s stratosphere, the second layer of the atmosphere above the earth. The sound of the explosion was heard thousands of miles away in the Yukon Territory, Canada. And although below the threshold of human hearing, pressure waves (sound) have even been detected by barometers in the UK.

It appears that the eruption also produced a series of so-called “atmospheric gravity waves” that were detected by the NASA satellite and radiated from the volcano in concentric circles.

eruption of the Tonga volcano was so powerful that it reached the ionosphere

The aim of the study is to better understand the upper levels of the atmosphere, well above the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS), and, in particular, the extent to which changes in it are driven by events on Earth (as opposed to the space environment).

It can also help us understand how volcanic eruptions affect technologies such as GPS.

When atmospheric gravity waves from a volcanic eruption (or any other source) reach the ionosphere, they can cause what are known as “travelling ionospheric disturbances”.

These are compression waves that can greatly amplify fluctuations in plasma density over a short period of time and can travel thousands of miles around the globe. These effects can disrupt current technology, for example by affecting the accuracy of global positioning satellite systems (GPS).


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