27 Sep 2023
 | 27 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Gravity waves generated by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcanic eruption and their global propagation in the mesosphere/lower thermosphere observed by meteor radars and modeled with the High-Altitude General Mechanistic Circulation Model

Gunter Stober, Sharon L. Vadas, Erich Becker, Alan Liu, Alexander Kozlovsky, Diego Janches, Zishun Qiao, Witali Krochin, Guochun Shi, Wen Yi, Jie Zeng, Peter Brown, Denis Vida, Neil Hindley, Christoph Jacobi, Damian Murphy, Ricardo Buriti, Vania Andrioli, Paulo Batista, John Marino, Scott Palo, Denise Thorsen, Masaki Tsutsumi, Njål Gulbrandsen, Satonori Nozawa, Mark Lester, Kathrin Baumgarten, Johan Kero, Evgenia Belova, Nicholas Mitchell, and Na Li

Abstract. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano erupted on 15th January 2022, launching Lamb waves and gravity waves into the atmosphere. In this study, we present results using 13 globally distributed meteor radars and identify the volcanic-caused gravity waves in the mesospheric/lower thermospheric winds. Leveraging the High-Altitude Mechanistic General Circulation Model (HIAMCM), we compare the global propagation of these gravity waves. We observed an eastward propagating gravity wave packet with an observed phase speed of 240 ± 5 5.7 m/s and a westward propagating gravity wave with an observed phase speed of 166.5 ± 6.4 m/s. We identified these waves in the HIAMCM and obtained very good agreement of the observed phase speeds of 239.5 ± 4.3 m/s and 162.2 ± 6.1 m/s for the eastward and the westward waves, respectively. Considering that HIAMCM perturbations in the mesosphere/lower thermosphere were the result of the secondary waves generated by the dissipation of the primary gravity waves from the volcanic eruption affirms the importance of higher-order wave generation. Furthermore, based on meteor radar observations of the gravity wave propagation around the globe, we estimate the eruption time to be within 6 minutes of the nominal value of 15th January 2022 04:15 UTC and localized the volcanic eruption to be within 78 km relative to the World Geodetic System 84 coordinates of the volcano confirming our estimates to be realistic.

Gunter Stober et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1714', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Oct 2023 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Gunter Stober, 01 Dec 2023 reply

Gunter Stober et al.

Gunter Stober et al.


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Short summary
On 15th January 2022, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano exploded in a vigorous eruption causing many atmospheric phenomena reaching from the surface up to space. In this study, we investigate how the mesospheric winds were affected by the volcanic-caused gravity waves and estimated their propagation direction and speed. The interplay between model and observations permits us to gain new insights into the vertical coupling through atmospheric gravity waves.