The volcanic eruption led to something the researchers can not explain – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

On Saturday, January 15, the volcano Hunga Tonga – Hunga Haʻapai exploded in the Pacific Ocean. The explosion was the most powerful on earth since 1962. The energy is estimated at ten megatons TNT.

The shock wave from the explosion moved away from the volcano at close to the speed of sound. At 6.20 pm the same day, it hit Finnmark and moved south. After about 90 minutes, it had passed all of Norway.

SHOCK: A pressure gauge at Kavringen in Oslo registered the shock wave from the Tonga explosion when it passed around 1930 on Saturday.

Photo: Port of Oslo / NRK

It is not this wave that scientists are now watching with great interest, but a series of much slower waves in the atmosphere.

Gravitational waves

The Nasa satellite Aqua has captured the waves. It looks like the pattern you get when a small rock falls into a completely calm pond. Scientists know what it is, gravitational waves, but they do not know how they were made.

– This is completely unique. We have never seen anything like this in our data before, says atmosphere researcher Lars Hoffmann at the Jülich Supercomputing Center in Germany to Nature.

The images from the satellite show a series of waves that spread 16,000 kilometers out of the volcano. The waves affected the whole atmosphere and perhaps changed the state of the near space around the earth. It writes the space scientist Gareth Dorian i The conversation.

This is what the pictures show, but scientists believe the waves went around the earth several times.

Rock waves, gravitational waves in Norway

MOUNTAIN WAVES: In this picture there are series of mountain waves over the northern counties in Norway.


Large movements

Gravitational waves in the atmosphere occur when air masses move up or down. Typically it happens when wind hits mountains. In Norway we just call them mountain waves.

The waves that spread out from the volcano in the Pacific Ocean were definitely not formed by winds that met mountains. Researchers have not found the mechanism.

– It’s all very strange. It must have something to do with the physics of the eruption, but we do not know what, says researcher Corwin Wright at the University of Bath to Nature.

What happened during the eruption was that large amounts of hot gases were sent very quickly over 30 kilometers into the atmosphere. This caused other air to be moved on.

The Tonga explosion seen from satellite

GREAT FORCES: Within minutes, the hot volcanic gases had shot up through the lower layers of the atmosphere.

Foto: Himawari

A false image where the volcanic cloud from the Tonga eruption is superimposed on a satellite image of France.

SO VERY BIG: To show the extent of the incident, someone has placed the volcanic cloud over a satellite image of France.

Foto: Reddit/NOAA/Goes West

Been in Europe

Scientists believe the gravitational waves were triggered by the gas flowing out of the volcano. The challenge is that this type of volcanic eruption has occurred many times before, without such waves that stretched so high up appearing to have been triggered.

– The instrument in the satellite that captured this has been in activity for 20 years now, and it has not observed such circular waves before, says the researcher Hoffmann.

What the researchers are sure of is that the explosion had global effects. The energy from the waves can have an effect on weather systems many thousands of kilometers away.

Simulated grave titration waves in the atmosphere.

KNOWN FROM BEFORE: Here, gravitational waves in the upper atmosphere are simulated in a supercomputer. Scientists have long been aware that such waves can affect the weather.

Photo: H.-L. Liu et al.

– The outbreak may have lasted for a short time, but the effects can be long-lasting. Gravitational waves can affect wind direction in tropical areas, and this can affect the weather as far away as Europe, says climate researcher Scott Osprey at the University of Oxford to Nature.

– This is something we will follow very closely, Osprey adds.

On Twitter, he illustrates the confusion that now prevails among researchers. The eruption led to the formation of many different waves. The challenge is to find out how they affect each other and how it affects the rest of the atmosphere.

Twitter message from researcher Scott Osprey listing all the different waves that were formed.

MANY DIFFERENT: The effects of the volcanic eruption have become controversial food for scientists.

Photo: Twitter

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