The Tonga Volcano Affects the Weather and Water of the Pacific Northwest

From the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Yesterday, around 0400 UTC 15 January (8 PM PST 14 January), there was a massive, explosive eruption near Tonga, in the southern tropical Pacific, about 5642 miles from Seattle (see map).

The volcano was clearly evident in satellite imagery from the massive ash cloud (see below, about 1-h after the eruption)

The explosive eruption created shock waves in the atmosphere (pressure waves) that rapidly propagated away.  These waves are evident in some infrared (water vapor channel) imagery as concentric rings (shown below).

The oceanic eruption also pushed away a massive amount of water, which created a tsunami on nearby islands (such as Tonga) and deep water waves that moved away at the speed of a jet plane, reaching the West Coast this morning.  This is why some local tsunami warnings went out this AM.

The Pressure Wave Reaches the Northwest

Local barometers indicated a well-defined pressure wave passing over our region around 4:30 AM this morning.  Here in Seattle, the University of Washington barometer showed the feature, with an amplitude of roughly 2 hPa (2 mb).  The arrow indicates the feature. Very impressive.

So it took about eight hours and 30 minutes to go about 5643 miles–thus a speed around 664 miles per hour.  This corresponds to the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere around 30,000 ft.  Makes sense.
The water wave moves slower, around 400 mph (and occasionally approaching 500 mph)….so a later arrival was expected.   Thus, at Neah Bay, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca,  the water wave arrived around 9 AM (17:00 UTC as shown on the chart), as indicated by the waviness in the water level after that time.  The amplitude of the variation is around 2 feet.

If you really want to be impressed, check out the same figure at Monterey, California.  Just wow.  The amplitude was up to 3-4 feet.

An amazing event and one that shows how interconnected our planet is–both in the air and in the water.

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Ron Long
January 16, 2022 2:19 am

Impressive natural event. The videos of the initial eruption show a combination of pyroclastic (gas-charged ash) material, the dark eruptive cloud, and steam, the white material. The steam explosions show probable unroofing of magma with sea water contact. Even the steam contains gases and volatiles as it does not dissipate quickly but appears to continue as white smoke. Just another normal event in our planets getting internal heat out of the system.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Ron Long
January 16, 2022 4:04 am


mpressive natural event.

You claim that it’s natural, but Settled Science tells us that we caused it. Repent!

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 16, 2022 6:26 am

Well they did blame the 2003 tsunami on climate change as I recall. Just saying.

Bryan A
Reply to  Thom
January 17, 2022 5:14 pm

Here is the Tsunami in Santa Cruz

Even Ca Tsunamis are Laid Back

Ron Long
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 16, 2022 6:27 am

Zig Zag, it looks like your claim it is not a natural event is somewhat in question, in that the Tonganese name for the erupting volcano is: Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, which translates to: stay away from that woman, she’s pissed off about something”.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ron Long
January 16, 2022 6:44 am

Aren’t they all

Janice Moore
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 16, 2022 12:21 pm

And the cause is usually manmade. 🤨😉😚

Dan Hawkins
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 16, 2022 6:12 pm

Mea culpa, Janice.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Dan Hawkins
January 16, 2022 9:19 pm

Aw, Dan…… no, lol. Women (this woman, at least! ) DO get stirred up, in general, more easily than men, by EVERY thing/one.

And that’s what makes us so delightful 😊

Heh. We can’t live with each other and we can’t live without each other.

Yeah, I realize that you knew I was kidding (sort of……..heh), but, it made me feel better to say so. Maybe, I felt compelled to write this qualification because I know or know of men whose wives are a NIGHTMARE to live with…… and their husbands just silently suffer and THAT makes me angry!! At a WOMAN-made cause. Lolol.

And some women like to talk a lot, too, huh?


Reply to  Janice Moore
January 16, 2022 11:07 pm

If women weren’t like women then life would be no fun. To all women thank you for being the way you are!

Bob boder
Reply to  PCman999
January 17, 2022 2:15 am

To most women.

Janice Moore
Reply to  PCman999
January 17, 2022 8:31 am

: )

Bob Hoye
Reply to  Ron Long
January 16, 2022 8:52 am

Just Mother Nature getting her rocks off.

Gregg Eshelman
Reply to  Bob Hoye
January 16, 2022 9:38 pm

Volcanoes are just Earth popping its zits.

Jeff L
Reply to  Ron Long
January 16, 2022 6:40 am

Note that if you reconstruct the time line, this video is all before the big event. The eruption began early in the day (I have seen 4:20 AM reported on GeologyHub) & the big eruption was not until the end of the day (you can see it was just before sunset on visible satellite loops). And after that , Tonga lost internet & no images have come out since. So, the video was not of the main eruption but of precursors earlier in the day

Reply to  Jeff L
January 16, 2022 8:34 am

I believe you meant initial eruption, not main eruption. If the initial eruption uncapped the magma, then water flowing into the chamber would trigger a much larger explosion. This would be similar to, but much smaller than, the eruption at Santorini Island in the Mediterranean.

Reply to  Jeff L
January 16, 2022 8:54 am

4:20 AM. IIRC, I saw satellite images referring to about 0410 UTC. “4:20 AM” is meaningless to me, as I live in the Eastern Time Zone. (UTC-0500).

Please learn how to tell time to us.

I believe Tonga is UTC+1300. I won’t bother to figure out when sunset was there.

Reply to  Ric Werme
January 16, 2022 9:01 am

Oh, what the heck. says sunset is about 7:25 PM, presumably local time.

JL White
Reply to  Ron Long
January 16, 2022 8:44 am

Won’t ‘causality’ go in the opposite direction:

=> Volcanic cycles sometimes cause the world’s regional climates to change.

=> Are you stocking your larder in 2025 for the return of the 210 year DeVries volcanic cycle in 2026 in the SE Asian archipelago, which caused ‘the year without a winter’ in 1816?

Smart Rock
Reply to  JL White
January 16, 2022 10:59 am

I think it was actually “the year without a summer” A historical name that (IIRC) gets occasionally debunked and/or rebunked here at WUWT.

JL White
Reply to  Smart Rock
January 17, 2022 12:01 am

Oops! Thx for the correction.

1606 they skated on the Thames.
1396 they couldn’t grow enough food with cloudy skies to survive the Black Plague.

We may get a preview of 2026 from the Tonga volcano explosion. Has anyone heard whether Tonga has survived or sufferred the same fate as the Minoans on Crete (Atlantis?) when the Thera volcano exploded ~1500 BC?

January 16, 2022 2:27 am

Weather stations in the UK recorded the same pressure wave between 1900 and 2000 UTC.

Reply to  Beaufort
January 16, 2022 3:55 pm

Yes. The shockwave caused a 2 minibar jump in air pressure recorded on my barometer in the north of England. There was a second, slightly smaller disturbance an hour later and another at about 0100 UTC on sunday

Frank the Norwegian
Reply to  Chris
January 17, 2022 2:10 am

Had a 1 minibar jump in my hotel room nachspiel the other day. The other hotel residents sure took notice…

Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2022 3:00 am

Have they linked this event to “climate change” yet? I know it might seem impossible but where there’s a will there’s a way. Money helps too.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2022 4:01 am

There’s nothing that the Magic Molecule can’t do!

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 16, 2022 6:03 am

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Scissor
January 16, 2022 11:52 am

I guessed rhinoceros. Losing my touch.

Reply to  Scissor
January 17, 2022 9:47 am

Boris Badenov: “Get moose and squirrel!”

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2022 4:46 am

Oh they will be on the case expect some peer reviewed papers from the firm anytime soon. In the meantime it’s bad so according to Griff it will be climate change.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2022 3:49 pm

Have they linked this event to “climate change” yet?”

Let’s help them out.
Hmm … acid rain combined with the missing heat in the ocean melted and dissolved the Earth’s crust above that particular spot until the pressure and heat from all past missing heat (from when CO2 levels were much higher) caused the Earth’s core to melt and burst through the Man-Made weak spot?  

January 16, 2022 3:06 am

Caught on camera, an amazing sight to behold.

But lets not forget that this eruption was caused by, er, climate change…..

A changing climate isn’t just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too”

The Guardian; always good for a laugh

Reply to  fretslider
January 16, 2022 3:15 am

This goes without saying…

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  fretslider
January 16, 2022 6:19 am

Looking at author Bill McGuire’s profile at the Guardian, he has been making these claims in the Guardian going back to at least 2003. According to his bio (Wikipedia):

William J. McGuire (born 1954) is Emeritus Professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at University College London[1] and is one of Britain’s leading volcanologists. His main interests include volcano instability and lateral collapse, the nature and impact of global geophysical events and the effect of climate change on geological hazards.

McGuire is a Co-Director of the New Weather Institute,[10] a co-op and think-tank “created to accelerate the rapid transition to a fair economy that thrives within planetary boundaries”.[11] He blogs for Extinction Rebellion.[11][12]

In November 2003 he linked global warming to a potential new ice age:

Will global warming trigger a new ice age?

If climate change disrupts ocean currents, things could get very chilly round here, reports Bill McGuire

In an August 2007 article he claimed:

Never mind higher temperatures, climate change has a few nastier surprises in store. Bill McGuire says we can also expect more earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and tsunamis

Then in April 2008:

The freak weather patterns that surprise us now will be the norm for our grandchildren, warns Bill McGuire

In February 2012:

A changing climate isn’t just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too

There are plenty others, see here.

At a brief glance the only natural disaster McGuire hasn’t linked to climate change is asteroid strikes.

If this were 50 years ago, the claim would be nuclear testing is responsible for all the same real and imagined disasters.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 16, 2022 12:21 pm

I can do better than alarmist McGuire…a warmer climate (all our fault) causes the atmosphere to be thinner thus letting in more of those nasty asteroids. Easy, simple sound bit science like that from MSM and the Guardian. It’s ALL our fault. Don’t you know?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 16, 2022 12:31 pm

Nice research, Alan Watt, CDL7.

one of Britain’s leading volcanologists

And Britain is so proud.


Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 16, 2022 12:52 pm

Scientists now link volcanism to climate change, so it’s clear that volcanoes are an existential threat to our planet.

Since humans can now control our other existential threat (climate change) by increasing tax dollars, it stands to reason that another tax increase can also control volcanoes.

Insufficiently Sensitive
Reply to  fretslider
January 16, 2022 7:58 am

We read about early-morning volcanoes way back in the 1950s. The impeccable source was Pogo the possum.

January 16, 2022 3:08 am

I certainly heard the explosions here in the North Island of New Zealand about 2000km away for about 10 minutes. Sounded just like distant artillery…very impressive. Didn’t know what it was at the time.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
January 16, 2022 4:07 am

Really? I heard nothing here in North Queensland, which is closer.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 16, 2022 4:23 am

North Queensland, which is closer.

Tonga to North Queensland 4,500 km

Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
January 16, 2022 6:14 am

I think he forgot the question mark:

“Really? I heard nothing here in North Queensland, which is closer?”

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  rbabcock
January 19, 2022 2:14 pm

I was reading that it was NOT audible in Hawaii, but it WAS heard clearly in some parts of Alaska, which is 1000’s of miles further away.
The speculation was that some sort of meteorological condition focused or redirected the sound from aloft down to the surface.

John in NZ
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
January 16, 2022 9:36 am

I live near Hamilton in Waikato. We heard it as well. If I hadn’t heard it I wouldn’t have believed it.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  John in NZ
January 16, 2022 11:02 am

Me to on Kawau Island North of Auckland
We spend some time looking for further lightening but no clouds etc.

Thought of the WW1 French front barrages that were audible in UK.

Reply to  Bill Treuren
January 16, 2022 12:18 pm

Also further south around Wellington. Pheasants carrying on like in an earthquake.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  John in NZ
January 19, 2022 2:17 pm

It is being called the loudest sound on Earth since Krakatoa in the 1880’s.
But I am not so sure…the person who they asked had fine hearing back then, but is a little hard of hearing nowadays.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
January 19, 2022 2:18 pm

And everything seems bigger when one is younger.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
January 19, 2022 2:11 pm

Here in SW Florida, USA, one of my cats woke up briefly, looked around, yawned, and went back to sleep.

January 16, 2022 3:13 am

How much CO2 was released? is there any sign of a pulse at the monitors in Hawaii?
How much albedo-altering ash has been pumped into the stratosphere?

Would be amusing if it turned out to utterly disprove AGW…

Interested Observer
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 16, 2022 4:53 am

I’m more interested in how much all that ash will cool the South-Western Pacific. What impact will it have on sea surface temperatures and, consequently, on rainfall patterns? Will the area have a cool but dry winter? This may be the start of a very bad year for farmers down under.

Reply to  Interested Observer
January 16, 2022 6:17 am

One theory is volcanic ash blasted into the stratosphere in the tropics decreases the easterly trade winds ultimately causing an El Niño. So immediate cooling, long term warming.

Reply to  rbabcock
January 16, 2022 6:37 am

We could use a large El Nino here in Arizona and the Southwest next winter. Bring it on!

Reply to  Wiredman
January 17, 2022 9:30 am

Amen! Bring it on!

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Interested Observer
January 19, 2022 2:29 pm

More condensation nuclei usually means more rain.
Plus we are way overdue for numerous large eruptions, and this one hardly plugs the deficit. Not that this by itself indicates more eruptions will come soon, but I suspect that it is not random and uncorrelated, like flipping a coin.
More like earthquakes I would think…energy is being (more or less) constantly stored up and has to get released eventually, although buildup of pressure in volcanoes around the world seems to be more episodic, due to the obvious difference between slow constant plate motions steadily building up strain that is released when rocks break, and the bubbling up of gas & magma from the depths of the Earth.
Some have claimed there is or may be a link to the solar cycles as well, with one possible mechanism for this at-first-unlikely-seeming scenario that a decrease in solar magnetic field leads to an increase in cosmic rays impinging on Earth which causes gasses to be released by magma, which increases pressure and hence more volcanic activity. Like shaking a bottle of soda.

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 16, 2022 6:34 am
John in NZ
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 16, 2022 9:54 am

My prediction is that there will be a large temperature drop on the UAH lower atmosphere graph in 2022 followed by a drop in the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 in 2023.

Look at what happenned after Mt Pinatubo.

Erupted in 1991. Rate of CO2 increase dropped in 1992

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  John in NZ
January 19, 2022 2:59 pm

This blast was strong but short in duration.
Volume of ejected material being reported is a small fraction of Mount Pinatubo (1991). Maybe 1/7 as much, IIRC.

Wth a VEI of around 5 accordingly early estimates, it is within an order of magnitude of the volume of material released with El Chichón (1982)  and with Mount St. Helens (1980) each around VEI5. Helens.
Although as we know from the example of el Chichon, small seeming eruptions can at times have a disproportionate effect if they are very high in SO2.

This eruption released an estimated 400,000 tonnes of SO2:

“Preliminary observations showed that the eruption column ejected a large amount of volcanic material into the stratosphere, leading to speculation that it would cause a temporary climate cooling effect.[38] Later calculations showed it injected an estimated 400,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere and was unlikely to have any global cooling effect.[39] Despite this, the eruption can have a cooling effect in the Southern Hemisphere, causing slight cooling of winters and spectacular sunsets. People living in the Southern Hemisphere can expect purple sunsets for a few months after the eruption. A cooling effect of 0.1 to 0.5°C (0.18 to 0.9° F) may last until spring (September–November 2022).[40] Shane Cronin, volcanologist from the University of Auckland, described the eruption as a one-in-1000-year event for the Hunga caldera, and stated that the event could rank as high as 5 on the volcanic explosivity index (VEI).[41][42][4]

But the series of events may not be over.
The thing was. after all, declared dormant three days before this eruption:

List of events and the associated VEI #, and an explanation of this parameter:Volcanic Explosivity Index – Wikipedia

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  John in NZ
January 19, 2022 3:03 pm

Both El Chichon and Pinatubo are thought to have released over 7 million tonnes of SO2 into the stratosphere, by way of comparison to Tonga’s 400,000 tonnes.

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 18, 2022 12:39 pm

Did the volcano seek a permit for the massive CO2 release ?
Were there carbon offsets purchased ?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Neo
January 19, 2022 3:39 pm

Is there some reason to think this event released an inordinate amount of CO2?

Typically it is asserted the major climate effects from volcanoes have to do with massive amounts of SO2 released into the stratosphere by some volcanoes.
The ash and debris have a short residence time in the atmosphere and are not typically important climatically, although in the largest eruption, above VEI7, this may no longer be the case. But even in cases with huge amounts of material released, it is only gasses that are blasted into the stratosphere that have an effect lasting a year or longer.
comment image

Conventional wisdom is that H2O, CO2, and SO2 comprise over 99% of gasses emitted during eruptions.
comment image

Some eruptions are known to be very high in CO2, but I think these most commonly occur when magma forces its way to the surface through deep layers of carbonate rich rocks. Nothing like that exists in the relatively thin oceanic crust. The sediments on the sea floor and also on top of the subducted oceanic plates that give rise to these volcanoes associated with subduction zones can have plenty of carbonates, but most of the sediment is scraped off during subduction, or so I believe.

But this is all according to so-called conventional wisdom on the subject.
Which may in fact be badly mistaken…or just plain wrong.
Some people think that the amount of CO2 released by volcanoes is being drastically underestimated.
And the volcanoes with relatively more CO2 in them are among the most explosive.
If anyone can find some of the material that was erupted, and check to see if it is carbonatite ash and tephra, maybe we will learn something new.

“Present day global emissions of volcanic gases to the atmosphere can be classified as eruptive or non-eruptive. Although all volcanic gas species are emitted to the atmosphere, the emissions of CO2 (a greenhouse gas) and SO2 have received the most study.
It has long been recognized that eruptions contribute much lower total SO2 emissions than passive degassing does.[5][6] Fischer et al (2019) estimated that, from 2005 to 2015, SO2 emissions during eruptions were 2.6 teragrams (Tg or 1012g) per year[7] and during non-eruptive periods of passive degassing were 23.2 ± 2Tg per year.[7] During the same time interval, CO2 emissions from volcanoes during eruptions were estimated to be 1.8 ± 0.9 Tg per year[7] and during non-eruptive activity were 51.3 ± 5.7 Tg per year.[7] Therefore, CO2 emissions during volcanic eruptions are less than 10% of CO2 emissions released during non-eruptive volcanic activity.
The 15 June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo (VEI 6) in the Philippines released a total of 18 ± 4 Tg of SO2.[8] Such large VEI 6 eruptions are rare and only occur once every 50 – 100 years. The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull (VEI 4) in Iceland emitted a total of 5.1 Tg CO2.[9] VEI 4 eruptions occur about once per year.
For comparison, human burning of fossil fuels and production of cement released 36,300 Tg CO2 into the atmosphere in 2015.[10] Therefore, the amount of CO2 emitted due to human activity is 600 times the amount of CO2 annually released by volcanoes. However, some recent volcanic CO2 emission estimates are higher than Fischer et al (2019).[7] The estimates of Burton et al. (2013) of 540 Tg CO2/year[11] and of Werner et al. (2019) of 220 – 300 Tg CO2/year[9] take into account diffuse CO2 emissions from volcanic regions. Even considering the highest estimate of volcanic CO2 emissions of 540 Tg CO2/year, current CO2 emission by human activity of 36,300 Tg CO2/year is 67 times higher.”

January 16, 2022 3:14 am

2.5 hPa pressure wave in Swizzerland

comment image

A second with 0.9 hPa followed

January 16, 2022 3:19 am
Keith Dowling
January 16, 2022 3:25 am

The satellite video is impressive. Depending on volume of ash in the atmosphere, this event could result in a cooling period in the atmosphere.

Ireneusz Palmowski
January 16, 2022 3:55 am

A powerful snowstorm in North Carolina is moving into Virginia.comment image

Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
January 16, 2022 5:56 am

Must be the global warming

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Derg
January 16, 2022 7:58 am

original GW prediction: children won’t know what snow is anymore

and isn’t this the 3rd or 4th major East Coast snow storm this year, and we are only in early Jan.

January 16, 2022 3:56 am

comment image

Bob boder
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2022 4:07 am


January 16, 2022 4:17 am

A good overview:

Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2022 6:39 am

Fly safe.

John Savage
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2022 6:52 am

I am constantly amazed at the superior quality of amateur productions versus the MSM. This was excellent.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2022 1:58 pm

Appreciate the link; that was very interesting.

David K
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 19, 2022 6:50 am

Here’s a recent picture after the eruption:comment image?w=2048

January 16, 2022 4:28 am

Where do we send the bill?

Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
January 16, 2022 12:25 pm

Bill McKibben obviously at

January 16, 2022 4:50 am

Wow, there really is nothing CO2 can’t do!

The satellite images are awesome, look like a nuclear detonation from the ’50s ocean tests.

Reply to  2hotel9
January 16, 2022 4:52 am

Yes, the numbers are not in yet but this will likely be much bigger than those.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
January 16, 2022 9:37 am

Mt. St. Helens from space. Tonga appears to be much larger.

Reply to  Meab
January 16, 2022 2:07 pm

Here in New Zealand, it was reported the ash cloud was covering an area with diameter from Hamilton the Christchurch. Thats 700km!

Federico Bär
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
January 17, 2022 5:47 am

Philip, talking of numbers, the article says first:
So it took about eight hours and 30 minutes to go about 5643 miles–thus a speed around 664 miles per hour…

But in the next passage we learn that:
The water wave moves slower, around 400 mph…

If I read correctly, ccould you please explain what “it” in the first paragraph refers to?
Thanks in advance!

Bob boder
Reply to  2hotel9
January 16, 2022 6:40 am

Way way bigger

Reply to  Bob boder
January 17, 2022 9:57 am

Maybe a hundred megatons. Fortunately most of the force went upward.

Reply to  2hotel9
January 16, 2022 7:34 am

Yea, it definitely looked it. Gawd awful lot of energy released. And people think we can stop climate or anything else from doing what it does. Talk about hubris.

January 16, 2022 4:54 am

If this volcano produced CO2 then it must be man-made.

January 16, 2022 5:24 am

Here in New England, several “Raspberry Shake and Boom” devices heard the shock wave from the explosion. It was very windy when the sound came through and I’m completely amazed the signal was there to be found. These devices are as amazing as the event.

Image key:
Sutton, NH (My RSB)
Weston Observatory, MA
Antrim, NH
Blue Hill Observatory, MA
comment image

Reply to  Ric Werme
January 16, 2022 5:32 am

By the way, these systems are Raspberry Pi based units with a geophone (Shake) and microbarometer (Boom). I bought mine for future work recording wind turbine infrasound, but both halves capture remarkable stuff. Mine just sits on the floor of my garage and amazes me every month.

Geoscientists are using them to get closeup looks at things like faults in Haiti (I saw the recent quake while it was happening) and rival research grade instruments.

[Commercial plug] See

Reply to  Ric Werme
January 16, 2022 9:33 am

Ric – thanks for that info. Very interesting. I have used a few R-Pi’s, but mostly for computing/network related uses, plus one as a controller for a tracker for my camera to take astro photos.

This sounds like a very interesting use.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Ric Werme
January 16, 2022 7:01 pm

How incredibly cool; thanks for this info. I will look into setting one of these up.

Randle Dewees
January 16, 2022 5:39 am

I’m waiting for reports from folks that were around or even inside the blast area, It’s a big area, with I imagine people out on boats. I am hoping no one was killed, but it’s seems likely many were. Here is an Australian news report mostly about Tonga, with some spectacular ground level footage of the eruption. I hope the link works.
Tsunami hits Tonga after underwater volcano erupts (

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 16, 2022 5:50 am

I wonder about some of the footage though – there appears to be an island under the erupting pyro cloud. Like maybe they stuck some stock footage into the report? It seems hard to get a line-of-sight superposition of an island this eruption

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 16, 2022 4:14 pm

Ignore my earlier speculation about the footage, i was completely wrong. There “was” an island there before the start of the eruption and some way into it.

Gregg Eshelman
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 16, 2022 9:47 pm

A recent eruption filled in between two of the islands, then a bunch of that eroded away, leaving a crater full of seawater, only slightly isolated from the open ocean. The current eruption is from the same area. Doesn’t look like anyone has imaging of what is there now.

Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
January 17, 2022 12:07 am

Internet is down. It seems that the cable under the sea has been cut. Fiji’s cable is still O K , I gather. Ash in the sky makes contact with satellites difficult. From reports that got through ash is everywhere covering everything. This is a disaster of great magnitude. NZ will send a plane when flying conditions improve. It may already be on it’s way. It will survey from the air.
see Otago Daily Times. for uptodate reports.

Bob boder
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
January 17, 2022 2:20 am

Actually the Friday eruption collapsed the part that had formed between the islands. Still don’t know what the Saturday massive eruption did

January 16, 2022 6:22 am

Could the tsunami amplification at Monterey Bay be somehow related to the Monterey Canyon?
( Monterey Canyon – Wikipedia )

Jeff L
January 16, 2022 6:27 am

A bit of analysis since there seems to be very little coming out, data wise: See reference link

Comparison to Pinatubo; Biggest , most violent part of Pinatubo eruption resulted in maximum plume extent of 110,000 km^2 in 3 hours
My estimate was diameter of Hunga Tonga plume at 3 hours (from sat images ) was 250 mi , which would be ~ 127,000 km^2 … bigger than the biggest blast of Pinatubo

John Bell
January 16, 2022 6:28 am

Thousands of tonnes of C02 from that Tonga eruption, I would wager.

Wim Röst
January 16, 2022 6:30 am

I am interested to know how this Tonga eruption compares to the Santorini eruption in the Mediterranean of around 1600 BCE and to the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.

Bob boder
Reply to  Wim Röst
January 16, 2022 6:43 am

I saw one estimate of VEI of 5

Jeff L
Reply to  Wim Röst
January 16, 2022 9:42 am

If look at the link your referenced for Krakatoa, a couple things are comparable:
1) The sound of the explosion was heard 2000-3000 miles away. On several YouTube videos, mostly showing the satellite presentation, commenters from as far away as the south island of NZ reported hearing Hunga Tonga the explosion
2) It is also noted the a pressure wave traveled the entire globe. In this post & comments specifically we have seen reports of the pressure wave being observed across North America & Europe. What would be interesting is if additional circlings of the globe of the pressure wave have been observed / recorded, similar to Krakatoa.

In short, with the limited data observations we have so far, there does seem to be support that this possibly might have been in the same range of size (ie VEI 6)

Jeff L
January 16, 2022 6:32 am

For reference and tying to my previous post, Pinatubo dropped global average temps by ~ 0.6 to 0.8° C & took 2-4 years to recover (depending on how you smooth / trend the data). See global temp ref page on this site and look at 1991. If the plume analysis of Hunga Tonga is indicative, this will be the ongoing story of effects on global temps

Bob boder
Reply to  Jeff L
January 16, 2022 6:46 am

So more excuses for the CAGW crowd

Reply to  Bob boder
January 16, 2022 7:57 am

That’s exactly my concern, now you will hear arguments that this buys us more time to implement draconian decarbonization…

Reply to  Bob boder
January 17, 2022 10:10 am

Looks like we’ll ace the Paris (add on) target of 1.5°C.

(that’s if anyone ever believed in it, of course) 😉

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
January 16, 2022 7:22 am

Is this an undersea volcano, or is the summit above the water? I can’t tell from the photos I’ve seen.

Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
January 16, 2022 8:12 am

It started as a summit above the water. The first blast removed the ash above the caldera so it flooded with seawater and was undersea. When the second blast occurred it would have been technically an undersea volcano.

Reply to  rbabcock
January 16, 2022 9:49 pm

That above water summits are just minor pimples on the edge of an undersea mountain with a caldera 20km across. This is likely where the major eruption came from , within the caldera. It seems that from historic Ash falls analysed on main island on Tongatapu 70 km away that are linked to this site indicate similar sized explosions around 800-1100 year periodicity.

Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2022 7:31 am

Worldwide, plants are cheering.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 17, 2022 10:22 am

In addition to CO2, there’s something I read about ash dimming the sun but creating more indirect light (a brighter sky) that helps plants.

Coach Springer
January 16, 2022 7:36 am

Is this something I’ll be seeing on Deadliest Catch?

Ed Fox
January 16, 2022 8:12 am

Lived in the Kingdom of Tonga for 8 months in the mid 80’s. Wonderful place. Fantastic diving.

From memory Tonga is an ancient massive volcano a couple of hundred kms across at the surface that has slumped into the ocean as its weight depressed the seafloor. When we sailed by the central islands one of them was mildy erupting at the time.

Given the force of the blast as seen from space this could have significant consequences for Tonga.

Reply to  Ed Fox
January 16, 2022 9:58 pm

Not quite . This erupting volcano is because they and some others lie on an arc above a continental plate which has another plate diving under it another to form the very deep Tonga Trench

The main island of Tongatapu isn’t volcanic origin at all, being low lying coral limestone origin and is away from the vulcanism of the plate boundaries

Frank from NoVA
January 16, 2022 8:28 am

Maybe the climate alarmists should consider that there are actually real existential events that could occur at any time, like Yellowstone…

January 16, 2022 8:40 am

From 2016… The Guardian says climate change can cause earthquake, tsunamis, and volcanoes.
– – – – – – – – –

“How climate change triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.”

Ireneusz Palmowski
January 16, 2022 9:32 am

“A previous eruption on Friday sent plumes of ash and smoke into the air, with smoke clouds extending up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the atmosphere.”

January 16, 2022 10:02 am

Tsunami warning in the West Coast. Really? Get over yourselves. Hardly a big deal, is it? Still unsure if this was sub-aerial or submarine. I am reminded of the effect of Krakatoa on UK public, drummed up by the activist official media of the day. More important, what happened on Tonga?

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Curious George
Reply to  Brian R Catt
January 16, 2022 1:06 pm

Precautionary Principle.The foundation stone of Progressivism. Fear tsunami, fear the virus, fear the buffalo-head guy entering the Congress.

Reply to  Brian R Catt
January 17, 2022 1:11 pm

There are some places in Northern California and are susceptible to and have suffered from Tsunamis. Crescent City got flooded in 1964 with 11 deaths (20-foot water surge). Got hit again in 2011 but not as badly. Was there on work trips a few times and they took it seriously.

January 16, 2022 10:44 am

I’ve been searching the web for the projected VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) of this Tonga eruption, but I haven’t been able to find any official estimates yet.

Looking at the scale of Tonga from satellite imagery, it has to be at least a VEI 5 (between 1KM^3~9.99KM^3, and could even be a VEI 6 event.

Regardless, whether it’s VEI 5 or 6, it will very likely cause some global cooling for a year or two, due to an increase of stratospheric volcanic particulates blocking some solar irradiance, until gravity and precipitation eventually remove it from the atmosphere.

An amazing event.

P.S. Japan completely overreacted, and my damned iPhone was automatically blasting out a very loud tsunami warming every 15 minutes from about 11 PM to 3 AM… even though the beach area where I live only had a tiny 20cm tsunami…

News reports say these excessive tsunami alarms were caused by a software glitch in the auto-Alarm system… Oh, goody..

Bill Treuren
Reply to  SAMURAI
January 16, 2022 11:27 am

Well NZ under reacted no warning, just damage.
Boat in Marinas have had real problems.
Turbid water around here but thankfully fish still biting.

Asleep at the wheel

Reply to  Bill Treuren
January 16, 2022 12:50 pm

But her toothyness sure has the China virus under control, and your whole country under lockdown.

Reply to  Drake
January 16, 2022 7:41 pm

Yes, Japan overreacted to COVID, but It’ll soon return to normal once this omi-cold wave is over.

Reply to  Bill Treuren
January 16, 2022 7:39 pm

I’m all for early warning tsunami warnings, but not in areas not affected.

There were islands of Okinawa Prefecture that suffered 2 meter tsunamis, but most of Japan was unaffected.

No tsunami injuries in Japan were reported, which is great news.

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 16, 2022 10:04 pm

Maybe a ‘novel’ form of tsunami then. Surely it needs a name …can’t call it Tonga Tsunami however, origin can’t be mentioned

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 16, 2022 7:54 pm

Update:A volcanologist out of NZ predicts the Tongs eruption was an VEI 5 event making it the largest since the 1991 Pinatubo eruption which was a VEI 6 event.

Mike Dubrasich
January 16, 2022 11:10 am

Predicted: a global temp decline of 0.9°C. That’s approximately the increase since 1880.

There goes the Hockey Stick!

Welcome to the Tongan Little Ice Age.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 16, 2022 8:41 pm

Mike-san: Recent predictions put the Tonga eruption at a VEI 5 event, so there will be some global cooling but not a lot.

NASA calculated the VEI 6 Pinatubo eruption (10+ times stronger than Tonga) caused 0.6C of global cooling, so Tonga will likely only cause around a 0.1C of global cooling, which is negligible.

We’ll see soon enough.

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 16, 2022 10:05 pm

Undersea volcano could be measured differently? , and most Ash has fallen in open ocean

Reply to  Duker
January 17, 2022 12:46 am

Since a relatively limited amount of ejecta ended up in the atmosphere, there won’t be much of cooling effect.

Pinatubo’s ejecta into the atmosphere was over 10 times that of Tonga’s so the global cooling will be minimal.

Also, since an El Niño cycle will likely start at the end of this year, there will be some ENSO global warming starting again later this year and all of next year.

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 17, 2022 3:25 pm

Thats because a mostly land based eruption can be far better measured. The closest large island is 70km away, Pinatubo could be watched from say 10km
This clearly is unmeasurable …at the moment, maybe some years later

January 16, 2022 11:19 am

How interesting! I checked my personal weather station record (on Weather Underground as KORMILLC2) and verified that I also had a small pressure spike near the same time. It ramped up from 30.34″ at 4:04 AM, to 30.38″ at 4:25 AM, and then ramped down to 30.33″ at 4:49 AM (times are PST and my station records pressure in inches of Mercury).

Distance to Tonga is about 5,560 miles, so that fits nicely with the UW barometer reading at a location some 80 miles more distant from Tonga.

It’s too bad that my barometer doesn’t have the fine precision of the UW barometer.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  DaveK
January 16, 2022 11:32 am

The release of ash can generate a strong pulse of Fe in the oceans it depends on the ash cloud composition being dependent on the provenance of the magma.

The outcome can be a massive absorption of CO2 and fish production, does anyone know anything about this? Or the likely Fe content.

Richard Patton
Reply to  DaveK
January 16, 2022 5:35 pm

I went back to the records on my PWS from yesterday and was surprised to discover that it recorded a 1mb jump at 0419 from the shock wave of the volcano. (I’m in Portland OR)

J Mac
January 16, 2022 11:52 am

Good info! More on this topic, Please!

Pat from kerbob
January 16, 2022 12:57 pm

Has Mikey Mann yet claimed this was the volcano he was waiting for to validate his “theory” that there are no ocean cycles?

Ireneusz Palmowski
January 16, 2022 1:50 pm

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano in between Tonga and New Zealand sent shockwaves across the South Pacific. Here is the full video of the eruption from the Tongan Navy.

Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
January 16, 2022 4:37 pm

Just for the record the volcano is part of Tonga (as the name suggests) and New Zealand is over 2000kms away.

January 16, 2022 2:42 pm

Here’s a baro plot from my personal weather station. You can see the first pressure spike at about 4AM yesterday morning, and a second one about 1AM this morning. I don’t know if the 2nd spike is a bounce (as happened several times with the Krakatoa eruption) or a second eruption.

Note: the pressure values are corrected for diurnal atmospheric tides, so the absolute pressure values are not what an uncorrected barometer would show.

Reply to  Observer
January 16, 2022 2:42 pm

P.S. This was measured in northern Calif.

January 16, 2022 3:51 pm

Just one more thing interesting to consider. Where molten lava flows into the ocean, it reacts vigorously with sea water to create large, acidic steam plumes containing HCl and HF gas. Since the final blast was underwater to begin with, it seems logical that some of the HCl and HF gas condensed directly in the ocean, and the rest produced extremely acid rain (likely SO2 was created, as well) in the immediate area.

So according to all the ‘acidification of the ocean’ horror stories, this should produce an extremely toxic environment for all ocean life in the immediate surroundings. Any bets what a survey of life vs pH levels would look like over the next six months? Keep in mind, too, that carbonic acid has a pH around 5.7. These acids have pHs closer to 2.

Randle Dewees
January 16, 2022 4:18 pm

Here is a presentation by Scott Manley, it’s got a lot of sat imaging.

Volcanic Eruption May Be Biggest Ever Seen From Space – YouTube

John Savage
January 16, 2022 5:33 pm

It would be interesting to see if the ash cloud has any impact on global solar and wind power generation in the next year or two.

Mike Maguire
January 16, 2022 7:37 pm

Cliff has some of the best information on the internet and is always authentic science based on data.

January 16, 2022 9:44 pm

If people got vaccinated, we wouldn’t have Climate Change causing eruptions like this one

January 16, 2022 10:11 pm

Some more detail on the undersea volcano and caldera that was the origin of this massive eruption

January 17, 2022 12:21 am

People managing to commuicate by various means with outside world Ash covering much of area it seems. Ash cloud dissipating in upper atmosphere

January 17, 2022 3:19 am

so for Aus we get great sunsets and a cooler winter hopefully with good rain whats not to like;-)

January 17, 2022 11:59 am

Climate Scientists discuss the Tongan sea-level surge (16.55-18.40)

January 18, 2022 12:38 pm

If anyone is still watching this post, I’ve now seen what I believe are four atmospheric pressure wave bounce (plus the main spike from the eruption), the latest at about 2:20AM PDT in northern Calif.

The time intervals between the eruption and each pressure wave I’ve seen in hours are 7.75  20.70  13.60  22.60  13.50.

The chart below from my personal weather station has atmospheric tides with periods of 6,8,12 and 24 hours removed — it’s much easier to identify the spikes that way. There are X-axis ticks at each of the suspected pressure wave spikes.

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