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Eruption in Tonga: strange "waves" in the atmosphere intrigue scientists


The phenomenon, hitherto never observed, would be due to a shock wave caused by the rapid entry into the atmosphere of hot air and ash.

“It's really unique.

We've never seen anything like this in the data before,” atmospheric scientist Lars Hoffmann enthused in the journal Nature.

A series of massive ripples in Earth's atmosphere, triggered by the eruption of the Tongan volcano this weekend, has researchers baffled.

On satellite images one can indeed see strange circles which extend around the place of the disaster, in the hours which followed the eruption of the volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai on January 14th.

Tonga volcano eruption created puzzling ripples in Earth's atmosphere

— nature (@Nature) January 18, 2022

According to the scientific journal, the images come from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), mounted on NASA's Aqua satellite.

These waves would have been caused, according to scientists, by the shock wave during the eruption of the volcano and would have probably circled the globe several times.

"Atmospheric gravity waves occur when air molecules in the atmosphere are disturbed vertically, rather than horizontally, in the air column," the scientific journal explained.

“The specialists evoke a large bubble of hot air which would have risen in the atmosphere, and which would have in a way reversed the air”, specified at the microphone of France Info Mathilde Fontez, editor-in-chief of the scientific magazine Epsiloon


These strange ripples in the atmosphere would therefore have been caused by the rapid updraft of hot air and ash from the erupting volcano.

But this is the first time that the AIRS instrument, launched in May 2002, has recorded such a phenomenon during an eruption.

Considerable damage

Despite this scientific curiosity that excites scientists, the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, one of the most powerful in recent decades, killed at least one person.

It was felt as far away as France, and even in the US state of Alaska, and triggered a tsunami that flooded the coasts of the United States as far as Chile and Japan.

Ash and acid rain battered much of the Pacific, causing widespread damage.

The Tongan government called the event an "unprecedented disaster" and declared an emergency situation for about a month.

Source: leparis

All life articles on 2022-01-22

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