Tonga volcano: Mysterious waves discovered in the atmosphere

A complex process in the upper atmosphere

Wright was the first to spot the wave patterns in the data provided by Hoffmann. In his opinion, they show a mixture of different wave sizes and types, which speak for complex conditions in atmospheric convection. A lot of things would happen at the same time, says the researcher. “At least that’s what we’re assuming for now. But we were only able to look at the phenomenon for a few hours.«

was the trigger for the discovery a tweet from Scott Osprey, climate scientist at Oxford University. In it he addressed Wright on January 15: “Wow, I wonder how big the atmospheric gravitational waves are from this eruption!?”

Osprey thinks the eruption may have triggered the waves simply because it was happening so quickly. The eruption “appears to have passed within minutes,” but the force of the blast may have caused the powerful gravity waves.

As short as the outbreak was, its effects may be long-lasting. Gravity waves can disrupt the cyclical reversal of wind direction in the tropics, Osprey says, and that could affect weather patterns as far away as Europe. “We will take a very close look at how this develops,” he says.

The “spectacular” images of the eruption and the data collected give plenty of material for exciting research, says Vicki Ferrini, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University in New York. At the same time, like many others, she is concerned about the people of Tonga, whose situation is still uncertain.

Meanwhile, New Zealand researchers are watching to see if the volcano is showing signs of another eruption. Keep your ear to the ground, says Shane Cronin, a volcanologist at the University of Auckland. The volcano may be supplied with large amounts of magma from underground, then there could be further explosive eruptions. But if he has exhausted his actual supply, there would probably only be smaller outbreaks. Most of them then remained hidden under the sea surface.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.