04 Jul 2022
04 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

The evolution and dynamics of the Hunga Tonga plume in the stratosphere

Bernard Legras1, Clair Duchamp1, Pasquale Sellitto2,3, Aurélien Podglajen1, Elisa Carboni4, Richard Siddans4, Jens-Uwe Grooß5, Sergey Khaykin6, and Felix Ploeger5 Bernard Legras et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD-IPSL), UMR CNRS 8539, ENS-PSL, École Polytechnique, Sorbonne Université, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Paris, France
  • 2Univ. Paris Est Créteil and Université de Paris Cité, CNRS, Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA-IPSL), Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Créteil, France
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Osservatorio Etneo (OE), Catania, Italy
  • 4UK Research and Innovation, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, UK
  • 5Institute for Energy and Climate Research: Stratosphere (IEK–7), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
  • 6Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS-IPSL), UMR CNRS 8190, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Sorbonne Univ./UVSQ, Guyancourt, France

Abstract. We use a combination of space-borne instruments (CALIOP, OMPS-LP, IASI, MLS, ALADIN, GEOs) to study the unprecedented stratospheric plume after the Hunga Tonga eruption of 15 January 2022. The plume was formed of two initial clouds at 30 and 28 km mostly composed of sub-micronic sulphate particles without ashes, washed-out within the first hours. The large amount of water vapour injected led to a fast conversion of SO2 to sulphates and the fast descent of the plume over the first three weeks. While SO2 returned to background levels by the end of January, the sulphate plume persisted until June, mainly confined between 20° N and 35° S due to the zonal symmetry of the summer stratospheric circulation at 24–25 km. As they grew through hydration and coagulation, the sedimenting sulphate particles separated from the ascending moisture entrained in the Brewer-Dobson circulation. IASI-derived sulphate aerosol optical depths show that the aerosol plume was not simply diluted and dispersed passively but rather organized in concentrated patches. ALADIN-AEOLUS winds suggest that those structures, generated by shear-induced instabilities, are associated with vorticity anomalies. They likely enhance the duration and impacts of the plume.

Bernard Legras et al.

Status: open (until 17 Aug 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-517', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Aug 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-517 - reviewer 1', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Aug 2022 reply

Bernard Legras et al.

Bernard Legras et al.


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Short summary
The long duration atmospheric impact of the Hunga Tonga eruption is a plume of water and sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere that persisted already during five months. We study this evolution using a battery of satellite instruments and analyse the unusual behaviour of this plume as its two components first moved down rapidly and then separated in two layers. We also observe the curious self-organization in compact and long-lived patches.