Tonga eruption increased atmospheric water vapor content by five percent

Ejections from volcanoes

Volcanic eruptions send out vast amounts of gases and dust into the atmosphere. Primary among the gases are carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Since these gasses are abundant in the atmosphere, their impact on climate change is considered minimal.

Sulfur-containing gases are also shot up by volcanoes into the stratosphere, the second lowest layer of the atmosphere where they can chemically react to form aerosols and result in a decrease in surface temperatures and the destruction of ozone.

Injection of water vapor into the stratospheric layer is also estimated to have an impact on climate change but events that can cause such injections are rare. Even the largest eruptions in the past century only resulted in minor ejections of water vapor.

In August, Interesting Engineering reported that the eruption sent enough water into the atmosphere that could fill 58,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The research conducted by a team at NASA had estimated that 146 teragrams of water were injected into the atmosphere, increasing water vapor content by as much as 10 percent. Their research had, however, claimed that even large amounts of water vapor would have a negligible impact on climate change.

Impact on the environment

Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used high-altitude weather balloons and estimated the amount of water injected to be at least 50 teragrams, which could increase water vapor content in the stratosphere by at least five percent.

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