Physicists noticed that the explosion of the Polynesian volcano Tonga affected the ionosphere of Kazakhstan

(ORDO NEWS) — The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano caused changes in the ionosphere at a distance of more than tens of thousands of kilometers.

On January 15, 2022, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano, located in the country of Tonga (Polynesia), erupted.

This eruption was the most powerful in the XXI century, while the ash column reached the stratosphere and rose to a height of 58 kilometers, along with it 146 teragrams (trillion grams) of water were thrown into the stratosphere.

The atmospheric fluctuations caused by the eruption reached Moscow and circled the Earth several times.

Now Russian physicists have found that atmospheric waves also affected the ionosphere, the lower boundary of which runs at an altitude of 60 km.

This was found out with the help of the Tien Shan high-mountain station of the Lebedev Physical Institute and the Orbita radio range of the Kazakh Institute of the Ionosphere (Almaty), as well as a number of space satellites.

“We observed the effects of perturbations caused by a dense air wave, which was formed at the moment of the explosion of the volcano and propagated in the earth’s atmosphere.

At ground level and up to a height of several kilometers, this disturbance was perceived as a short-term jump in atmospheric pressure, which could be measured by conventional methods, such as a digital barograph.

At an ionospheric height of 70-100 km from the surface, the energy of the air wave propagating in the atmosphere was transferred to ionized air layers, which led to changes in the electric charge distribution density at this height,” explained Nazyf Salikhov, one of the authors of the study.

The energy of the explosion can be transferred to the ionosphere through the resonance of acoustic-gravity oscillations in the atmosphere. Ionospheric disturbances caused by the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano were recorded by scientists using a network of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers, which is commonly used to measure the total electron concentration in the ionosphere.

Noticeable ionospheric effects were also observed by the ICE and GOLD mission satellites located in low Earth and geostationary orbits. GNSS receivers identified two types of traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) that propagated from the epicenter of the explosion: two large-scale and several medium-scale TIDs.

The most dominant medium-scale TID moved at a speed of about 200-400 m/s and coincided with a surface atmospheric pressure disturbance. Thus,

Disturbances in the ionosphere can also affect the earth’s surface – for example, telluric currents can occur in the soil.

Two such perturbations were found in the records of the telluric current at the moments of the arrival of the Lamb wave and the acoustic-gravity wave to the current registration point at the Tien Shan high-mountain station.

The authors hope that the study of such processes will make it possible to predict the consequences of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes for the climate.


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