Watch the Tongan Volcano Eruption As Captured in Satellite Images

It generated shockwaves felt on the opposite side of the planet.

On January 14, a submarine volcano in the Hunga Tonga volcanic island caused an eruption so powerful, it generated shockwaves felt on the opposite side of the planet. The eruption was compared to the 1991 Pinatubo eruption, which ejected so much sulfur into the atmosphere it cooled global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius. 

Tsunami warnings were issued in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States, among others. In Tonga, tsunami heights were reportedly as high as 15 meters

In the video below, YouTube sensation and scientist Simon Clark shows and explains how the Tongan eruption caused a worldwide shockwave and tsunami. 

Tongan Volcano Eruption Caught on Satellite Video

Will the Tongan Volcano eruption cool global temperature?

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it launched 17 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. That sulfur dioxide combined with water vapor in the air, creating sulfuric acid—a highly reflective substance that enveloped the planet, partially blocking solar radiation. That much sulfuric acid resulted in the global cooling by half-a-degree Celsius for nearly two years. 

Although the Tonga Volcano is nearly as powerful as the Pinatubo eruption in 1991, it did not eject as much sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Estimates from satellite data suggest it produced 400,000 tons of sulfur dioxide or 40 times less than Pinatubo’s.

The Tonga Volcano eruption displaced so much air, it sent shockwaves around the world.

For the first time, scientists were able to see the global effects of a massive eruption, thanks to satellite imagery. One such effect that scientists are observing for the first time since technology for it was made available is the huge displacement of air around the world. This phenomenon was felt on the opposite side of the world, and was picked up by instruments from different meteorological centers. 


Below is an imaged animation of the shockwave that rippled several times around the world from the Tonga Volcano. 

Shockwave from Hunga Tonga GOES 17.gif
Image by Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB - Public Domain

Support victims of Tongan tsunami

You can support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in responding to the Tongan tsunami (and other life-saving projects) by donating through this link: https://www.ifrc.org/donate

Tonga Volcano Eruption 2022-01-15 0410Z to 0550Z.gif
Image by Japan Meteorological Agency

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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