August 10, 2022

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What an eruption it was!  Hong Tonga volcano emitted waves so fast that it approached theoretical limits

What an eruption it was! Hong Tonga volcano emitted waves so fast that it approached theoretical limits

You may remember the eruption of the underwater volcano Honga Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. Undoubtedly, the events that occurred at the beginning of this year will be remembered by scientists, for example.

The eruption at that time was so powerful that it released pressure waves that spread through the atmosphere and around our planet. At the same time, they broke the speed record that can be set in such conditions, because they accelerated to 1158 kilometers per hour. This is the post available in temper nature.

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Its authors, led by Corwin Wright of the University of Bath, are still impressed with the energy that a single volcano was able to release. This, also known as Honga Tonga – Honga Happi, led to its outbreak on January 15. One of its signs is the presence of clouds of dust and gas that have reached the mesosphere, the third layer of Earth’s atmosphere.

Ash emitted during the eruption of the Hong Tonga volcano rose to a height of 58 km

At some point, the height of this material reached 58 kilometers. For this reason, the recorded eruption turned out to be a record-breaker as well in this regard. Of course, the story did not end there, as ground-based and satellite monitoring systems recorded the eruption of the volcano and its effects. If you delve into the collected data, you can draw new and surprising conclusions about the events that occurred six months ago.

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The Indonesian volcano of Krakatau, whose powerful volcano erupted in 1883, turned out to be a worthy “competitor” of Hong Tong in many respects. In both cases, the waves reached a similar amplitude and circled the planet the same number of times: four in one direction and three in the opposite direction. On the other hand, waves caused by pressure disturbances appeared in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans.

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Wright and colleagues’ latest findings relate to the enormous speed that the waves emitted during the eruption achieved. At one point, they reached a value of more than 320 meters per second, or about 1158 kilometers per hour. As the study’s lead author acknowledges, developments in this matter allow a better understanding of our planet’s atmosphere and should improve weather and climate models.