Tonga Eruption Blasted Unprecedented Amount of Water Into Stratosphere

From NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Aug. 2, 2022

This looping video shows an umbrella cloud generated by the underwater eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Jan. 15, 2022. The GOES-17 satellite captured the series of images that also show crescent-shaped shock waves and lightning strikes.
 Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens using GOES imagery courtesy of NOAA and NESDIS

The huge amount of water vapor hurled into the atmosphere, as detected by NASA’s Microwave Limb Sounder, could end up temporarily warming Earth’s surface.

When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, it sent a tsunami racing around the world and set off a sonic boom that circled the globe twice. The underwater eruption in the South Pacific Ocean also blasted an enormous plume of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – enough to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The sheer amount of water vapor could be enough to temporarily affect Earth’s global average temperature.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Luis Millán, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. He led a new study examining the amount of water vapor that the Tonga volcano injected into the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere between about 8 and 33 miles (12 and 53 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai
This satellite image shows an intact Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in April 2015, years before an explosive underwater volcanic eruption obliterated most of the Polynesian island in January 2022. 
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

In the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, Millán and his colleagues estimate that the Tonga eruption sent around 146 teragrams (1 teragram equals a trillion grams) of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – equal to 10% of the water already present in that atmospheric layer. That’s nearly four times the amount of water vapor that scientists estimate the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines lofted into the stratosphere.

Millán analyzed data from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite, which measures atmospheric gases, including water vapor and ozone. After the Tonga volcano erupted, the MLS team started seeing water vapor readings that were off the charts. “We had to carefully inspect all the measurements in the plume to make sure they were trustworthy,” said Millán.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption
An image from Jan. 16, 2022, shows the ash plume from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption that occurred the day before. An astronaut took a photograph of the plume from the International Space Station. 
Credit: NASA

A Lasting Impression

Volcanic eruptions rarely inject much water into the stratosphere. In the 18 years that NASA has been taking measurements, only two other eruptions – the 2008 Kasatochi event in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile – sent appreciable amounts of water vapor to such high altitudes. But those were mere blips compared to the Tonga event, and the water vapor from both previous eruptions dissipated quickly. The excess water vapor injected by the Tonga volcano, on the other hand, could remain in the stratosphere for several years.

This extra water vapor could influence atmospheric chemistry, boosting certain chemical reactions that could temporarily worsen depletion of the ozone layer. It could also influence surface temperatures. Massive volcanic eruptions like Krakatoa and Mount Pinatubo typically cool Earth’s surface by ejecting gases, dust, and ash that reflect sunlight back into space. In contrast, the Tonga volcano didn’t inject large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere, and the huge amounts of water vapor from the eruption may have a small, temporary warming effect, since water vapor traps heat. The effect would dissipate when the extra water vapor cycles out of the stratosphere and would not be enough to noticeably exacerbate climate change effects.

The sheer amount of water injected into the stratosphere was likely only possible because the underwater volcano’s caldera – a basin-shaped depression usually formed after magma erupts or drains from a shallow chamber beneath the volcano – was at just the right depth in the ocean: about 490 feet (150 meters) down. Any shallower, and there wouldn’t have been enough seawater superheated by the erupting magma to account for the stratospheric water vapor values Millán and his colleagues saw. Any deeper, and the immense pressures in the ocean’s depths could have muted the eruption.

The MLS instrument was well situated to detect this water vapor plume because it observes natural microwave signals emitted from Earth’s atmosphere. Measuring these signals enables MLS to “see” through obstacles like ash clouds that can blind other instruments measuring water vapor in the stratosphere. “MLS was the only instrument with dense enough coverage to capture the water vapor plume as it happened, and the only one that wasn’t affected by the ash that the volcano released,” said Millán.

The MLS instrument was designed and built by JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the Aura mission.

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Alexy Scherbakoff
August 2, 2022 10:15 pm

A lot of maybes. Has anyone noticed a spike in regional temperatures since January?

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 2, 2022 10:34 pm

Lots of maybes and could do this or that. I guess they wanted to spice up the report.

I did experience a localized temperature spike when I saw a sweet young thing in a bikini but, it went away.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Brad-DXT
August 2, 2022 10:42 pm

Don’t get to see bikinis in Tasmania. It’s mainly older, corpulent women with saggy upper arms. Zero warmth involved.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 3, 2022 2:50 pm

Alexy, you have no idea of what you are talking about. It is the older, corpulent women who cook your food, take care of your children and household, soothe your brow when you are distressed and provide great, warm cuddling and sex when you need it, especially on cold, lonely nights.

Bikini clad hotties are just eye candy, sweet but unnourishing and transitory. And they cost more than most men can afford in both money and heartache. Brad had it right when he said “it went away.” Take it from this old dude who has had them all.

Editor
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 2, 2022 11:01 pm

Yes, lots of maybes and no relevant numbers. The numbers they do give do look rather puny. They would surely have estimated just how much warming it would create, and they must have estimated it at zero or they would be only too happy to tell us the number. What a shower. And the water vapour presumably will eventually also come down as a shower.

M Courtney
Reply to  Mike Jonas
August 2, 2022 11:47 pm

The actual measurement was a 10% increase in stratospheric H2O. Measurements are real science.

Now let’s see what happens and then we can say what effects stratospheric H2O may have and what effects it certainly doesn’t have.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  M Courtney
August 2, 2022 11:59 pm

6 months and still waiting. Monckton’s post didn’t show anything unusual in his temperature graph. Something should have shown up by now.

Jerry Gorline
Reply to  M Courtney
August 3, 2022 5:45 am

Water in the stratosphere is different than water in the troposphere. Stratospheric water vapor would be chemically active, breaking down quickly and reacting with other molecules. Ozone depletion seems like a reasonable outcome, temporarily.

Reply to  M Courtney
August 3, 2022 6:02 am

Actually, measurements are FACTS and NOT science. Science is an explanation of the cause using the scientific method.

Reply to  M Courtney
August 3, 2022 12:36 pm

M Courtney,
Indeed,
Measurements are real science.”
Absolutely correct.
The 146 Teragrams is 146 GigaKilograms [if I am allowed that unit] or 146 MegaTonnes [ditto].
That is, very roughly, one tonne for every square mile of water surface globally.
There’s a lot of Ocean on Planet Earth.

Auto

Kazinski
Reply to  M Courtney
August 3, 2022 3:27 pm

Shows how much they don’t know, is all that extra water in the atmosphere just going to absorb more heat and warm the planet more?

Or is it going to form clouds, and reflect more sunlight, and then cool the planet?

Or will it all come out in the wash, with no measurable change either way?

Smart Rock
Reply to  M Courtney
August 3, 2022 3:45 pm

Using global consumption of ±6 million barrels of jet fuel per day, and assuming that 50 percent of that is burned while cruising in the stratosphere, it’s simple to calculate that jet aircraft add about 250 teragrams of water to the stratosphere every year.

Plus about 175 teragrams of CO2.

Fossil fuels emit more water than CO2 (by weight)

TallDave
Reply to  Mike Jonas
August 5, 2022 7:34 am

They would surely have estimated just how much warming it would create|

why, literally no “climate bill” ever has

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 3, 2022 4:40 am

not in aus if anything its cooler and a damn sight more rainy la nina isnt the entire cause of that

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  ozspeaksup
August 3, 2022 4:59 am

I’ve lived in Australia most of my life, I’m 70+. Lake Eyre has filled several times. Northwest NSW has had many floods. Nothing much unusual about it.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 3, 2022 6:30 am

UAH no warming trend over Australia for 10 years now. Geoff S
http://www.geoffstuff.com/uahaug2022

tygrus
August 2, 2022 10:29 pm

Olympic-size swimming pools has minimum of 2.5ML each, so 58’000 x 2.5ML = 145’000ML. An area of Sydney & surrounding area 100km x 200km x 300mm rain = 6’000’000 ML ie ~41x the volcano mentioned above. The other issue is certain emissions (mostly particles from volcanoes, fires & tree oils) can increase the seeding of clouds & increases rainfall of existing moisture.

Eng_Ian
Reply to  tygrus
August 3, 2022 12:19 am

Strange… 50m x 8 lanes at 2.25m each, depth average 1.5m gives a volume of 1.35Ml. And I was being very generous with the lane width and depth.

tygrus
Reply to  Eng_Ian
August 3, 2022 12:30 am

Olympic standard (minimum height) 10 lane wide but use 8 lanes. 50m x 25m x 2m = 2500kL = 2.5ML.

Reply to  tygrus
August 3, 2022 1:56 am

Let’s stick to something simpler, shall we?
146 Tetragrams=146 billion kilograms = 146 million tons = 12m x 12m block of water = bugger-all to worry about?
They must be getting really, really desperate, if they are expressing tons as grams, that’s over-reporting by a factor of one million.
Pathetic. Desperate and pathetic. Just like their insistence we all partake in their sexual perversions.
Pathetiiiiiiic!

Reply to  cilo
August 3, 2022 2:56 am

Oh, sorry, that “block of 12×12″will be less than four feet deep, it is not even a cube of water, just a slice!

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  cilo
August 3, 2022 5:00 am

I calculate 526 meter cube of water. 12 meter cube of water is 1728 cubic meters = 1728 metric tons of water.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
August 3, 2022 7:47 am

Just a slice then?

Reply to  cilo
August 3, 2022 7:53 am

…and to be fair, that will be 12 kilometers! Still only slightly more than 40 inches deep, though. Which is actually a lot, come to think of it, so I would love to know how they actually measured it. Telling me how you rechecked your data values does not mean you actually validated that data.

Buck Fiden
August 2, 2022 10:34 pm

I thought CO2 in the stratosphere was a coolant. Wouldn’t H2O be as well?

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Buck Fiden
August 2, 2022 10:56 pm

Normally it would, but the extra H2O is hidden in the deep oceans.

Dennis
Reply to  Buck Fiden
August 2, 2022 11:40 pm

During the Kyoto Conference in Japan the warming problem was “greenhouse gases”, apparently CO2 became the problem during the Paris Conference in France.

/sarc.

Reply to  Buck Fiden
August 3, 2022 12:27 am

I don’t profess to understand all that stuff, but I’ve heard that high thin clouds tend to have a net warming effect: they raise the effective emission altitude and thereby reduce the effective emission temperature and thus the radiation to space.

As I (perhaps mistakenly) understand the “iris effect” once proposed by Richard Lindzen, for example, the thunderstorms that result from higher surface temperatures tend to be better at wringing moisture out of the air and thereby leave less for such clouds’ production. So it’s a negative-feedback effect: a warmer surface temperature reduces the warming by high thin clouds.

Anyway, maybe it’s thought that the greater stratospheric water vapor will increase such warming-effect clouds.

Or maybe not.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Joe Born
August 3, 2022 12:23 pm

There are two types of “iris”. Lindzen’s and Prof Lu from the University of Waterloo. Lu’s is based on the presence or absence of ozone over Antarctica, and is strongly dependent on natural chemistry cycles in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Antarctica has a huge capacity to radiate energy away from the earth. Presumably this past record cold winter saw the iris in action, again. As Svensmark did, Prof Lu replicated his proposed chemistry in his lab, and points to satellite measurements to support his theory. Eli Rabbit, desperate to prove his theory did not stand up to scrutiny, selected a satellite that didn’t pass over the effective region and claimed “no effect found”, and laughed. Prof Lu pointed out his error and laughed last. It is all on line.

There are (at least) two irises. (irii? irides?)

Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
August 3, 2022 1:07 pm

Thanks a lot. I hadn’t heard of that effect.

Yooper
Reply to  Buck Fiden
August 4, 2022 3:56 am

Nice pseudonym….. 😉

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Buck Fiden
August 4, 2022 4:53 am

Thanks for the good laugh, Buck!

I mean about your name, not your observations. 🙂

Last edited 11 days ago by Tom Abbott
Kai Dahlqvist
August 2, 2022 11:57 pm

Why Teragrams and swimmingpools? They tell me nothing. Why not Tons or cubic kilometers?

JohnC
Reply to  Kai Dahlqvist
August 3, 2022 12:57 am

Teragram is technically correct as gram is the base unit, tonne is a derived unit.

10^12 grams = 10^6 tonnes (1 tonne = 2200 lbs or 55/56 tons)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  JohnC
August 3, 2022 11:21 am

However, the purpose of having prefixes such as tera or mega is so that the measurement can be presented as just the significant figures without having a long string of zeros or appending a multiplier such as “x 10^12” or “E12.” The “correct” way to display a measurement is with just the significant figures and without the non-significant zeros; a decimal-point standard notation such as 1.46 x 10^14 seems to have become passe with the demise of slide rules.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 3, 2022 3:25 pm

The purpose of units like teragrams and petagrams is to impress readers with the overwhelming magnitude of whatever it is they are wittering about.

Since much of the water ejected is likely to be seawater, I’m surprised they aren’t concerned about the amount of salt added to the stratosphere.

fretslider
August 3, 2022 12:29 am

“We’ve never seen anything like it”

And now they have. There’s probably a lot of things they haven’t seen. That’s settled science

Doonman
Reply to  fretslider
August 3, 2022 10:33 pm

They haven’t seen a gamma ray burster in the local group either. If they had, they wouldn’t be able to tell you that they did.

Anthony
Reply to  fretslider
August 4, 2022 11:38 pm

fretslider

It’s also a line from the film Dr Dolittle from the 1970’s

Basil Hooper
August 3, 2022 12:49 am

We are still getting bright sunsets here in New Zealand. Could the water vapour do that or can they only come from the aerosols?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Basil Hooper
August 3, 2022 1:54 am

Well, we certainly have a lot of aerosols in our government in Oz…

Alan M
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2022 6:17 am

I see what you did there, yes more than 6 mths ago

paul
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2022 5:51 pm

good play on that word Zig. Love it !

bill
Reply to  Basil Hooper
August 3, 2022 2:21 am

dust I think very high altitude

Peta of Newark
August 3, 2022 1:41 am

While the Gulf Stream, as it passes Newfoundland, is moving 150 MegaTonnes of water per second – 4 more than this puny effort.
Every second of every day of every year.

But, from the world’s leading agency of squirrel spotters, did we hear about all the:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulphur
  • Cobalt
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • ….to name but a few, let’s not forget the CO2

that that volcano released?
Things that cause Global Greening, things that improve all aspects of plant-life & health, things that improve the mental, as well as physical, health of all sentient critters.
us included

No.
We get a mega-dose of trivia, irrelevance & big-numberism with mutual & self-administered knob-polishing.
Accompanied by a blizzard of coulds and maybes on how this this is going to waste the world. From a group of self-important nobodies.

See now what The Real Problem is? That deep-seated depression and the paranoid belief that ‘everything is bad‘ and out to get us.

Now that CO2 has come along, CO2 is imagined to do ‘bad things’ and CO2 is ’emitted’ by people, we get: Inside the green lentil that each has for a brain: People = Bad

Climate is not the problem.

TasChas
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 3, 2022 4:33 am

A quick back of the envelope is the water was approx 2.5 times tasmanias annual rainfall, or about half of what recently dumped over Queensland and New South Wales in Oz during the recent floods. Theres plenty of other water in the atmosphere during the monsoon at various locations. Not quite sure how it reacts with the stratosphere but I would have thought temperature and density would make it respond similarly to previous eruptions with short lived effect. To me it sounds like more of the same, nothing to see here, move along.

Graham
Reply to  TasChas
August 3, 2022 1:54 pm

I live in New Zealand a long way south of Tonga .
We heard the sonic booms on the 15th of January and wondered what it was .
We have had excess rain since May but it was very dry from February to April .
Australia has had floods in different parts since the eruption .
I was talking to my brother yesterday who is a geothermal scientist and he tells me that as a physicist he believes that increasing CO2 will cause more water to be absorbed into the atmosphere and will warm the world .
I know that a warmer atmosphere will hold more water vapour but with this eruption the extra water vapour in the atmosphere should show up as a temperature spike if this theory is correct .
Frankly I do not think that is correct and I wondered if any one here can shine some light on this .

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Graham
August 3, 2022 2:35 pm

Hi Graham,

I currently collating/digitising my 40+ years of rainfall records at our property in NZ…if you would like this info please email me at the Stargazers B&B address you should already have as I seem to have lost yours.

I think there’s an increasing rainfall trend over 4 decades but should be able to confirm this in the next day or two. I’m sure we also are having less severe frosts on the Coromandel in recent years.

I too heard the eruption from over 2000km away from inside the house with windows closed and TV blaring!

Anthony
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 4, 2022 11:40 pm

From a horse racing point of view, horses that should win, often don’t

Nelson
August 3, 2022 1:45 am

Ice crystals anyone

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Nelson
August 3, 2022 1:55 am

Just the one for my glass of Scotch, please!

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 3, 2022 2:58 am

Advice to make a better experience from The MacAllan

https://www.themacallan.com/en/knowledge/education/mastering-whisky-ice-or-no-ice

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 3, 2022 4:12 am

I live in hot places. A little frozen spring water is essential sometimes.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Nelson
August 3, 2022 4:44 am

might help explain the larger than normal iridescent clouds?
that and a lot of meteors dust too?

August 3, 2022 2:47 am

Well. I was just finished writing an opinion.
https://breadonthewater.co.za/2022/08/02/global-warming-how-and-where/

This story fits in well. Thanks.

Yooper
August 3, 2022 3:42 am

Hmmm…. The volcano erupted just before Southern Hemisphere Winter so the winter ‘down there” should be/have been mild. But, this winter has been exceptionally harsh/cold. Maybe the idea of that H2O trapping heat is correct and it’s keeping it from reaching the surface?

ChrisGeo
Reply to  Yooper
August 3, 2022 4:23 am

We’ve had huge rain events repeatedly along the eastern seaboard of Australia this year. Particularly in Queensland, which does not get a great amount of winter rain. Brisbane has had 1800mm to this day this year, compared to 900 to the same day last year. One event dumped 900mm in 3 days! And it’s been bloody freezing. Jennifer Marohasy made the comment in one of her blogs that these rain events are coinciding with the ash cloud circumnavigating the earth – though I could not find where to track the ash cloud. I’m a geologist and would expect a massive load of aerosols, particulates, and H20 to cause cooling and rain. Never heard of a volcanic event causing warming before.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Yooper
August 3, 2022 11:32 am

According to the UAH anomaly report, only February 2022 was colder than usual (-0.50). The Australian Winter (July) is supposedly warmer than typical (0.65). Your perception of “exceptionally harsh/cold” is at odds with what Roy Spencer is reporting.

Yooper
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 4, 2022 4:06 am

Just repeating what I’d read, like this from Electroverse:

Even according to the data-tampering, UHI-ignoring ‘Bureau of Meteorology,’ July 2022 across Australia was a cold month.
The country as a whole, according to the official data, closed with an average July reading some -0.8C BELOW the 1991-2020 average. The month was also -0.16C BELOW the 1961-1990 baseline — a historically cold era.

Loren C. Wilson
August 3, 2022 4:55 am

146 teragrams = 1.46E14 grams = 1.46E11 kilograms. This is equal to 0.146 cubic kilometers of water. My thought on global warming/cooling is that this moisture will freeze and reflect incoming solar radiation more than it will absorb and return it.

August 3, 2022 4:57 am

These people just unknowingly disproved the whole CAGW theory. They admitted that water vapor is a big greenhouse gas.

“The huge amount of water vapor hurled into the atmosphere, as detected by NASA’s Microwave Limb Sounder, could end up temporarily warming Earth’s surface.”

And what happens during every El Nino? Large amounts of water vapor is released into the atmosphere, causing the temperature to increase. And what causes El Nino? Natural forces, not humans. Therefore, capitalism and liberty is not hurting the earth like the CAGW theory claims.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Wade
August 3, 2022 7:10 am

Wade:

“And what causes El Nino? Natural forces, not humans”

Not true!

Most are caused by VEI4 and larger volcanic eruptions,about 24-30 months after an eruption when their SO2 aerosols settle out of the atmosphere, and the less polluted air causes temperatures to rise, and NOT because of large amounts of water vapor being released into atmosphere.

ENSO does not cause temperatures to rise. The whole Earth is temporarily warmed in the aftermath of a large volcanic eruption.

And humans have caused a few, such as 1997-98, and 2015-16, due to global “Clean Air” efforts that greatly reduced the amount of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere.

August 3, 2022 5:58 am

To get back to the real world, the clouds created by this eruption are more likely to cool the climate. As greenhouse gases are a fantasy and the cool water gas in the upper atmosphere CANNOT cool the warmer surface, this is a tempest in a teapot. Yawn.

John Shotsky
August 3, 2022 6:15 am

Common sense would dictate that more water vapor in the stratosphere would lead to a higher albedo, lowering earth’s temperature. But no matter the cause, everything causes global warming. As soon as you read those words, you should be questioning the author’s motives.
Water vapor concentration in the stratosphere is measured to be 4-10 parts per million. An additional 10% of 4-10 ppm would be 4.4 to 11 ppm. That does not seem to be a cause for alarm to me, being saddled with common sense as I am. After all, earth has been doing this (injecting water vapor into the stratosphere) for billions of years, and all is well except for the hot air from Co2 believers, which is thought to contribute to global warming.

Shoki Kaneda
August 3, 2022 6:15 am

“Unprecedented”? What, within their insufficient memory or understanding?

Geoff Sherrington
August 3, 2022 6:38 am

What is the Total Precipitable Water before and after this event, as mm of water in the atmosphere spread around the globe?
Geoff S

ATheoK
August 3, 2022 8:22 am

The huge amount of water vapor hurled into the atmosphere”

As much water vapor as El Nino puts into the atmosphere? Or a front of thunderstorms?

JamesD
August 3, 2022 8:30 am

On the other hand, look at the MASSIVE increase in surface area of water compared to the patch of ocean from whence it came. Now radiating heat to space. Sounds like a cooling event to me.

mario lento
August 3, 2022 9:17 am

Doesn’t the H2O cloud also cause a cooling effect by reflecting solar light back into space?

bubbabird
Reply to  mario lento
August 3, 2022 11:15 am

For sure! A battle between reflective cooling and greenhouse warming. The effects of water in its liquid phase (droplets) versus gas phase water (greenhouse effect). And resorption of the water (by rainfall, chemical reaction, coadsorption by CO2, nitrous oxides, sulfurous acid and other hydrophilic compounds). Short wave, high energy UV energy effects.

Too many variables for mouseheads to handle, Too many, actually, for good scientists to handle. The earth has so many buffer systems operating it just results in blatant, idle speculation, like the statements do in this Tonga paper.

For most scientists, “It’s a Living”.

Mario Lento
Reply to  bubbabird
August 3, 2022 12:01 pm

Exactly… The IPCC has not figured out the atmospheric water cycle and its affects on net warming/cooling. However, they go ahead and use it to show a practically impossible net positive runaway warming evil gas.

Dave Fair
Reply to  mario lento
August 3, 2022 3:57 pm

Water vapor is essentially transparent to sunlight. The “cloud” was transitory and it is water vapor in the stratosphere that is postulated to be the putative warming in the atmosphere.

John Garrett
August 3, 2022 9:19 am

Pigs must be flying!

NPR reports a study suggesting there might actually be such a thing as naturally occurring atmospheric warming.

Headline:
(NPR) Tonga’s volcano sent tons of water into the stratosphere. That could warm the Earth

bubbabird
August 3, 2022 10:26 am

Another Chicken Little issue. Another “Lack of Perspective” issue.

Here is another CL issue currently populating the media:

In the USA and globally, there has become a huge political issue regarding methane belching ruminants (The Great Cow Problem), Farmers in Netherlands and elsewhere are rebelling against the taxes imposed because of this HUGE (Cows are bigger than us, for sure except for some politicians i have seen) problem. This has been promulgated by the Greenies who purport themselves to be vegetarians, and they hang (I wish) on this issue.

Methane is short lived as a greenhouse gas, I remember some time ago on WUWT (years ago?) regarding methane, and the fact that the termites (Order Isoptera, with 7 Families therein!) amount to the largest biomass of any multicellular organism kind on the planet, belching many times the methane of all of the ruminants and humans combined living on earth. I wonder if that excellent article can be redone.

Assuming the premise, that methane is very bad, Should we eat the termites? Spray DDT all over the rainforests? Employ armies of termite hunters? Tax them?

Lack of persepctive and lack of scientific knowledge is the problem here. Making a mountain out of a termite mound, and a water catastrophe out of a simple volcanic eruption.

“You Cain’t fix Shtoopid” is the main problem!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  bubbabird
August 3, 2022 11:41 am

Even if ruminants contribute to methane, a NASA site says that 2/3rds of all methane comes from wetlands. With a significant contribution from termites, that doesn’t leave much to be reduced by eliminating domesticated ruminants when methane is measured as parts per trillion.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 4, 2022 2:00 pm

Obviously Trump was right…we need to drain the swamp(s)!

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  bubbabird
August 3, 2022 12:33 pm

This idea about killing termites:

We would only have to eliminate 10% of the termite population to offset all human emissions. Then there would be no need to eat them. All we have to do is breed friendly anteaters and keep more chickens, which lo-o-ove termites.

The :greens” seem not interested in simply solutions. There are no global leadership positions in the tree planting and termite reducing industries.

Dave Fair
Reply to  bubbabird
August 3, 2022 4:02 pm

Bubba, IIRC the wavelengths of methane IR adsorption are covered by water vapor. Maybe CliSciFi will clarify this sometime in the future. From what I see in the UN IPCC report charts it is not considered in their radiative forcing calculations.

Christina Widmann
August 3, 2022 10:41 am

In the 18 years that NASA has been taking measurements, only two other eruptions –

So they only started measuring water vapor in the stratosphere the day before yesterday, and they’re surprised they’re seeing a record amount.

The usual unprecedented measurements.

Bob
August 3, 2022 1:11 pm

Can someone help me? These people are concerned that the equivalent of 58,000 size swimming pools of water vapor were blasted into the stratosphere. How does the volume of 58,000 Olympic sized swimming pools compare to the volume of the stratosphere? My understanding is that basically all of earth’s weather occurs in the troposphere, so what’s the problem? My understanding is that the higher you go in the troposphere the colder it gets, upper troposphere being -60 degrees. My understanding is that the stratosphere increases in temperature as you go higher in altitude. If that is true then wouldn’t the heating caused by the extra water in the stratosphere move higher up, since heat rises. These guys sound like a bunch of crack pots to me.

bubbabird
Reply to  Bob
August 3, 2022 2:34 pm

Yet this may be another of the myriad of variables “goosing” these cycles. And they really variables in the truest sense, because each may be altered by the other variables “nearby”. Remember DiffyQ? I hardly do, except knowing that each variable changes in magnitude or direction according to other variables. Differential Calculus.

Dave Fair
Reply to  bubbabird
August 3, 2022 4:07 pm

I actually got to apply partial DiffyQs in my first engineering job out of college. Since then, who gives a shit: Computers do it now.

Robber
August 3, 2022 2:50 pm

“enough to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools” – isn’t that just a drop in the ocean?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Robber
August 4, 2022 1:03 pm

It is a 10% increase in stratospheric absolute humidity.

Richard M
August 3, 2022 3:24 pm

I doubt water vapor in the Stratosphere would have a warming effect, but it might take several months to settle into the upper Troposphere where it could have a warming effect. Maybe this is the reason for the UAH July anomaly outlier.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard M
August 4, 2022 5:19 am

“Maybe this is the reason for the UAH July anomaly outlier.”

I was wondering about that myself.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Richard M
August 4, 2022 1:05 pm

It appears that Pinatubo warmed the Earth for a year after it erupted.

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:03 am

From the article: “enough to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

I’m trying to visualize 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

I think describing a volume of water using Olympic-size swimming pools is fine in certain circumstances, but when you get to a certain amount of water, one should move to another way of descibing the situation, imo.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 1:07 pm

I think describing a volume of water using Olympic-size swimming pools is fine in certain circumstances, …

Yes, if one is looking for a source of water to fill 58,000 pools.

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:08 am

From the article: ““We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Luis Millán, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.”

Perhaps that’s because you haven’t been around that long.

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:11 am

From the article: “That’s nearly four times the amount of water vapor that scientists estimate the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines lofted into the stratosphere.”

Yes, but Pinatubo was not an underwater volcano. It stands to reason that an underwater volcano would produce more water vapor.

TonyG
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 9:22 am

It stands to reason

I think your expectations are too high, Tom 🙂

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:18 am

From the article: “Volcanic eruptions rarely inject much water into the stratosphere. In the 18 years that NASA has been taking measurements, only two other eruptions – the 2008 Kasatochi event in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile – sent appreciable amounts of water vapor to such high altitudes.”

In other words, NASA Climate doesn’t know much about the history of water vapor and volcanoes.

This article gives the impression something unprecedented is going on here. How do they know? Answer: They don’t know.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 1:09 pm

We could ask griff. He knows all about ‘unprecedented.’ He may have even trade marked the word.

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:28 am

From the article: “and the huge amounts of water vapor from the eruption may have a small, temporary warming effect, since water vapor traps heat.
The effect would dissipate when the extra water vapor cycles out of the stratosphere and would not be enough to noticeably exacerbate climate change effects.”

What [human-caused] climate change effects?

You’re assuming too much and presenting your assumptions as facts. That’s sad, or outrageous, depending on whether you are climate change confused, or a climate change conniver.

Tom Abbott
August 4, 2022 4:35 am

From the article: “The sheer amount of water injected into the stratosphere was likely only possible because the underwater volcano’s caldera – a basin-shaped depression usually formed after magma erupts or drains from a shallow chamber beneath the volcano – was at just the right depth in the ocean: about 490 feet (150 meters) down. Any shallower, and there wouldn’t have been enough seawater superheated by the erupting magma to account for the stratospheric water vapor values Millán and his colleagues saw. Any deeper, and the immense pressures in the ocean’s depths could have muted the eruption.”

That’s interesting. I learned something.

Last edited 11 days ago by Tom Abbott
Gordon A. Dressler
August 4, 2022 12:23 pm

From the above article:
“The excess water vapor injected by the Tonga volcano, on the other hand, could remain in the stratosphere for several years.”

Really, NASA JPL? I’m just wondering exactly how that works.

The range of gas temperatures in the stratosphere ranges from an average of −51 °C (−60 °F) near the tropopause to an average of −15 °C (5.0 °F) near the mesosphere. These temperatures are significantly below the melting point of water ice, so wouldn’t that mean that water vapor injected in the troposphere rapidly converts to ice crystals?

The injected water vapor will NOT remain as such beyond several weeks, if not days!

Ice crystals in the troposphere would reflect more incoming solar energy than they would absorb IR energy radiated by Earth’s surface, thus leading to a cooling of Earth instead of the article’s asserted warming.

It is amazing that the so-called “scientists” at JPL don’t understand such simple physics and thermodynamics of the phases of water in Earth’s atmosphere.

Last edited 10 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 4, 2022 1:13 pm

I’m sure that every one of those JPL scientists have received bona fide participation trophies — sometimes called “sheep skins.”

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 4, 2022 2:18 pm

“The injected water vapor will NOT remain as such beyond several weeks, if not days!”

Maybe so but here’s a somewhat related query from me:

Some months ago here at Stargazers Astronomy Tours in the North Island of New Zealand I received a 34g rock that was reported to have landed recently in a carpark with considerable noise and was extremely cold and covered in frost when it landed. This dissipated over a few minutes and this was also our summer so about 24C. The rock had fragments of green paint on it, the same colour as surrounding buildings.

Could it be from the Tonga eruption? I think it’s very unlikely given that it would have to have attained close to 8km/sec to get into orbit, albeit a short lived one, as it came down about 3 weeks after the eruption. But, as I said uptread, it was a big eruption as we clearly heard it at home 2000km from Tonga.

The rock is rounded and has no fusion crust (but not 100% of meteroites do) and looks somewhat more like an eartly andesite (volcanic rock) than an extraterrestrial meteorite.

Other options I can think of include rocks falling from planes coming in to land (unlikely at this site) and rocks falling from weather balloons when they go pop.

I’ve spoken to the NZ scientist who did the work on the Tonga eruption and he thinks it’s unlikely that it could have been blasted into space. But I wonder if it could have made into a very low orbit, maybe 100km, which took 3 weeks to decay??

Does anyone have any other ideas?

Next step is to get a thin section of the rock to try and elucidate its origin and affinity.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
August 4, 2022 7:13 pm

Very interesting observation.

First off, I would not think that the subject rock came from the underwater Tonga eruption . . . its ejection from the ocean floor would had to have first cleared the depth of the water/gas eruption mix to reach the surface of the ocean (with associated drag forces), and then to also have enough kinetic velocity to make it into an approximate 3 week-long elliptical orbit.

You state that it was covered in frost, which is indicative an object having “cold soaked” in space, and this is consistent with rare reports of meteorites recovered almost immediately after hitting the ground.

Lack of a “fusion crust” (actually an aerodynamically heated surface layer) is not at all surprising (if such indeed occurred) because an orbital decay atmospheric reentry velocity would be much less (maybe an order-of-magnitude less) than that associated with typical meteorites entering Earth’s atmosphere from deep space that are on parabolic or hyperbolic orbital paths.

The green paint that you reference could be explained by first impact on, or a ricochet off, one of the nearby buildings that you mentioned. Was there any mention of an impact depression near where the meteorite was discovered?

My predominate conclusion from so little data is that you are looking at the recovery of a normal “stony” meteorite.

Good fortune with your further investigations.

Last edited 10 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 5, 2022 1:15 am

Yes, you’re right…an entry from low earth orbit would be about an order of magnitude less, so maybe no fusion crust although returning spacecraft do have heat shield ablation. But a low altitude breakup of a bigger piece could also explain that.

We looked for damage to the surrounding buildings but could not see anything obvious but could not get onto the similarly painted roof.

Good point about it having to come up through water. However there were a couple of islands there before the eruptions so maybe it could have come from there somehow…maybe two simultaneous eruptive plumes squeezing it upwards at escape velocity?? Unlikely…but so is every other possible explanation!

The rock is porous and has vugs which is unusual for a meteorite, but not for a terrestrial rock. However, the thin section should help. It’s a nice little mystery I’d like to solve…

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
August 5, 2022 9:02 am

Alastair,

Here is an outrageously low probability event that you might want to consider due to its potential high science value:
you may have a meteorite from Mars!

Such meteorites have been recovered, many from the top of ice sheets in Antarctica.

Here is what Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_meteorite ) summarizes:
“A Martian meteorite is a rock that formed on Mars, was ejected from the planet by an impact event, and traversed interplanetary space before landing on Earth as a meteorite. As of September 2020, 277 meteorites had been classified as Martian, less than half a percent of the 72,000 meteorites that have been classified. The largest complete, uncut Martian meteorite, Taoudenni 002,[3] was recovered in Mali in early 2021. It weighs 14.5 kilograms (32 pounds) and is on display at the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum.
“There are three groups of Martian meteorite: shergottites, nakhlites and chassignites, collectively known as SNC meteorites. Several other Martian meteorites are ungrouped.”

The Wiki article has some nice photos of cross-sections of different Martian meteorites. If you have access to a good university-level planetary scientist or astronomy center, they may offer a free sectioning and analysis of your recovery to determine its possible meteorite category and origin.

In any event, due to its currently curious morphology as you describe it, I would suggest handling your recovery with great care until it can be established as being “normal”, “Martian” or “new/unknown category”.

If it is only ~34 gram mass, as you stated previously, then yes, atmospheric breakup of a larger parent meteor would be suspected . . . with the associated importance of searching the area near the recovery site if indeed this recovery (fragment) turns out to be from Mars.

Hoping for the best for you and Stargazers Astronomy Tours and for the person that recovered that strange object that seems most likely to be a meteorite of some type.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 5, 2022 1:56 pm

Hi Gordon,

No, it’s not an outrageous idea at all…in fact it was my first thought when I saw the original very low resolution photos of it. It then looked like a eucrite either from Mars or maybe an asteroid (Vesta?). However on closer personal examination it appears to be more andesitiec in composition and I believe that most Martian meteorites are pretty basaltic. I’ve seen a few Martian meteorites and this doesn’t look like any of them.

Dr. Shane Cronin of Auckland University who has spent months in Tonga on the volcano there, both before and after the latest eruption, has agreed to get it thin sectioned at their expense. I will be delivering it to him next week. He has already examined it under a better microscope than mine and says it looks more terrestrial than extraterrestrial.

If you would like to have more information or see some photos please contact me via the email on our Stargazers B&B website…it would be good to discuss it more offline. We need all the ideas we can get…no matter how outrageous!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
August 6, 2022 7:12 pm
Peter Fraser
August 4, 2022 2:57 pm

Forget the metric system, or for that matter the imperial system we seem to have a new measure of volume that is becoming more and more common: The Olympic Sized Swimming Pool”. Personally I find it much easier to visualise 1cubic kilometre than x Olympic swimming pools.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Peter Fraser
August 4, 2022 7:20 pm

Part and parcel of humans forsaking science and devolving back into belief in the gods, including the ancient Olympians such as Dioxygenius Carbonus.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peter Fraser
August 6, 2022 7:21 pm

Another defect in equating a volume of water to “Olympic Sized Swimming Pools” is that while the length of the pools is defined, some builder may opt for a narrower than standard pool if they don’t have large competitions. However, the biggest problem is that there is a minimum depth decreed for Olympic pools, but no requirement for the shape of the bottom. That is, the shallow end may be deeper than the minimum, and there is no specification for the slope between the deep and shallow ends. Thus, different pools can have different volumes. Pool dimensions were specified for swimming, not for water volume equivalences.

TallDave
August 5, 2022 7:33 am

seems unlikely excess stratospheric water vapor would persist very long at all

would be surprised if any excess vapor is even detected in Feb readings

Chris*
August 5, 2022 11:53 pm

I understood this water condensed and fell on the east coast of Australia a week later, adding significant damage to already flooded regions. Not that the BOM would have mentioned it, as it would have diluted the climate change narrative. Geothermal activity can create serious weather events; that might sew doubt amongst the flock.

Ruleo
August 6, 2022 11:56 am

“since water vapor traps heat”

We should see it in the observational records.

I’ll wait…

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