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Volcano eruption near Tonga would not affect global climate: experts


The eruption of the volcano near Tonga was probably not extensive enough to impact global climate, experts said.

Infrared cameras capture the power of the Tonga eruption 0:49

(CNN) --

 Although massive volcanoes have the potential to affect global temperatures and weather, Saturday's eruption near Tonga probably wasn't extensive enough to impact global weather, experts told CNN.

  • What are underwater volcanoes like the one that erupted in Tonga?

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano eruption was huge: probably the biggest in 30 years, according to experts.

It unleashed a huge cloud of ash and sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the atmosphere, more than 30 kilometers above sea level, according to data from NASA satellites.

At that height, above the influence of the jet stream from a layer of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere, aerosols can remain for years.

And it's worth noting that when SO2 reaches the stratosphere, it reacts with water and creates a cloudy layer of gas that blocks sunlight from reaching Earth's surface, which can lead to cooler temperatures.

Watch the smoke and explosions left by the underwater volcano near Tonga 0:53

But scientists also estimate from satellite data that the total mass of SO2 from Saturday's eruption was 0.4 teragrams (400 million kilograms) of SO2.

One figure is well below what specialists say could significantly alter the global climate.

For example, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 released 15 to 20 teragrams of SO2 into the atmosphere.

Which resulted in a 0.6 degree Celsius drop in global temperature over the next 15 months, according to NASA.


  • How is and where is Tonga, the country affected by the eruption of an underwater volcano?

Erik Klemetti, associate professor of geosciences at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, said the sulfur dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by the Hunga Tonga eruption was "well below the usual threshold for anything that's going to have an impact." significant in the climate in general".

Other scientists echoed Klemetti's assessment on Twitter.

From space, the moment before the Tonga disaster 0:42

"If the volcano decides it's going to do a series of explosions and continues to have them, that will change things," Klemetti told CNN. "But right now, it looks like it was a short enough event that it didn't have enough sulfur to cause a big climate impact," she added.

Klemetti noted that the eruption near Tonga could have a regional impact on temperature.

Although, scientists are still not sure how significant it could be.

And he stressed that, ultimately, it depends on the amount of SO2 that reached the stratosphere.

  • A powerful volcanic eruption and tsunami hit Tonga and the Pacific.

    This is what we know

Klemetti also emphasized that it is not the ashes that affect global temperature and climate.

He said most people assume that volcanic ash is what reflects sunlight and affects global temperatures.

But unlike aerosols, ash doesn't stay in the atmosphere for long.

Instead, there should be a significant amount of sulfur dioxide.

An ash particle is an "actual physical shard of glass," he said.

"They're tiny, but they have enough mass that they fall out of the atmosphere pretty quickly," he said.

volcano eruptionTonga

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-01-17

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