‘Unprecedented’ volcanic eruption released enough water vapor to heat Earth: report

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On January 15th, 2022, Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted, spewing tons of gas and ash into the atmosphere. According to a Wednesday report by National Public Radio, the blast contained enough water vapor – notorious for its heat-trapping abilities – to temporarily raise Earth’s temperature.

“The massive amount of water vapor is roughly 10% of the normal amount of vapor found in the stratosphere, equaling more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools,” NPR wrote.

The chemicals “came from a volcano that’s more than 12 miles wide, with a caldera sitting roughly 500 feet below sea level. One day earlier, Tongan officials reported the volcano was in a continuous eruption, sending a 3-mile-wide plume of steam and ash into the sky. Then the big blast came, sending ash, gases and vapor as high as 35 miles — a record in the satellite era — into the atmosphere,” per NPR.

READ MORE: Decarbonization happening ‘too slowly to offer real protection from warming’: author

In a July paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists discovered that Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai “may be the first volcanic eruption observed to impact climate not through surface cooling caused by volcanic sulfate aerosols, but rather through surface warming.”

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