Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai Hydration of the Stratosphere

Luis Millan, Michelle L. Santee, Alyn Lambert, Nathaniel J. Livesey, Frank Werner, Michael J. Schwartz, Hugh Pumphrey, Gloria L. Manney, Yuan Wang, Hui Su, Longtao Wu, William G. Read, Lucien Froidevaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Following the 15 January 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption, several trace gases measured by the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder displayed anomalous stratospheric values. Trajectories and radiance simulations confirm that the H2O, SO2, and HCl enhancements were injected by the eruption. In comparison with those from previous eruptions, the SO2 and HCl injections were unexceptional, although they reached higher altitudes. In contrast, the H2O injection was unprecedented in both magnitude (far exceeding any previous values in the 17-year MLS record) and altitude (penetrating into the mesosphere). We estimate the mass of H2O injected into the stratosphere to be 146+-5 Tg - ~10% of the stratospheric burden. It may take several years for the H2O plume to dissipate. This eruption could impact climate not through surface cooling due to sulfate aerosols, but rather through surface warming due to the radiative forcing from the excess stratospheric H2O.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL099381
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Early online date1 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2022


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