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Title: Under the surface: Pressure-induced planetary-scale waves, volcanic lightning, and gaseous clouds caused by the submarine eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano
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Earthquake Research Advances
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract. The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha′apai volcano eruption was a unique event that caused many atmospheric phenomena around the globe. In this study, we investigate the atmospheric gravity waves in the mesosphere/lower-thermosphere (MLT) launched by the volcanic explosion in the Pacific, leveraging multistatic meteor radar observations from the Chilean Observation Network De Meteor Radars (CONDOR) and the Nordic Meteor Radar Cluster in Fennoscandia. MLT winds are computed using a recently developed 3DVAR+DIV algorithm. We found eastward- and westward-traveling gravity waves in the CONDOR zonal and meridional wind measurements, which arrived 12 and 48 h after the eruption, and we found one in the Nordic Meteor Radar Cluster that arrived 27.5 h after the volcanic detonation. We obtained observed phase speeds for the eastward great circle path at both locations of about 250 m s−1, and they were 170–150 m s−1 for the opposite propagation direction. The intrinsic phase speed was estimated to be 200–212 m s−1. Furthermore, we identified a potential lamb wave signature in the MLT winds using 5 min resolved 3DVAR+DIV retrievals. 
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  2. Abstract. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on 15 January 2022 provided a rare opportunity to understand global tsunamiimpacts of explosive volcanism and to evaluate future hazards, includingdangers from “volcanic meteotsunamis” (VMTs) induced by the atmosphericshock waves that followed the eruption. The propagation of the volcanic andmarine tsunamis was analyzed using globally distributed 1 min measurementsof air pressure and water level (WL) (from both tide gauges and deep-waterbuoys). The marine tsunami propagated primarily throughout the Pacific,reaching nearly 2 m at some locations, though most Pacific locationsrecorded maximums lower than 1 m. However, the VMT resulting from theatmospheric shock wave arrived before the marine tsunami and propagatedglobally, producing water level perturbations in the Indian Ocean, theMediterranean, and the Caribbean. The resulting water level response of manyPacific Rim gauges was amplified, likely related to wave interaction withbathymetry. The meteotsunami repeatedly boosted tsunami wave energy as itcircled the planet several times. In some locations, the VMT was amplifiedby as much as 35-fold relative to the inverse barometer due to near-Proudmanresonance and topographic effects. Thus, a meteotsunami from a largereruption (such as the Krakatoa eruption of 1883) could yield atmosphericpressure changes of 10 to 30 mb, yielding a 3–10 m near-field tsunami thatwould occur in advance of (usually) larger marine tsunami waves, posingadditional hazards to local populations. Present tsunami warning systems donot consider this threat. 
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  3. Abstract Records of pressure variations on seismographs were historically considered unwanted noise; however, increased deployments of collocated seismic and acoustic instrumentation have driven recent efforts to use this effect induced by both wind and anthropogenic explosions to invert for near-surface Earth structure. These studies have been limited to shallow structure because the pressure signals have relatively short wavelengths (<∼300 m). However, the 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai (also called “Hunga”) volcano in Tonga generated rare, globally observed, high-amplitude infrasound signals with acoustic wavelengths of tens of kilometers. In this study, we examine the acoustic-to-seismic coupling generated by the Hunga eruption across 82 Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations and show that ground motion amplitudes are related to upper (0 to ∼5 km) crust material properties. We find high (>0.8) correlations between pressure and vertical component ground motion at 83% of the stations, but only 30% of stations show this on the radial component, likely due to complex tilt effects. We use average elastic properties in the upper 5.2 km from the CRUST1.0 model to estimate vertical seismic/acoustic coupling coefficients (SV/A) across the GSN network and compare these to recorded observations. We exclude many island stations from these comparisons because the 1° resolution of the CRUST1.0 model places a water layer below these stations. Our simple modeling can predict observed SV/A within a factor of 2 for 94% of the 51 non-island GSN stations with high correlations between pressure and ground motion. These results indicate that analysis of acoustic-to-seismic coupling from the eruption could be used to place additional constraints on crustal structure models at stations with collocated seismic and pressure sensors. Ultimately, this could improve tomographic imaging models, which rely on methods that are sensitive to local structure. 
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  4. Key Points The 15 January 2022 Hunga Tonga‐Hunga Ha'apai eruption had four episodic seismic subevents with similar waveforms within ∼300 s An unusual upward force jump‐started each subevent A magma hammer explains the force and estimates the subsurface magma mass flux which fits the vent discharge rate based on satellite data 
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  5. Abstract

    The Hunga Tonga Hunga‐Ha'apai (HTHH) volcanic eruption on 15 January 2022 injected water vapor and SO2into the stratosphere. Several months after the eruption, significantly stronger westerlies, and a weaker Brewer‐Dobson circulation developed in the stratosphere of the Southern Hemisphere and were accompanied by unprecedented temperature anomalies in the stratosphere and mesosphere. In August 2022, the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) satellite instrument observed record‐breaking temperature anomalies in the stratosphere and mesosphere that alternate signs with altitude. Ensemble simulations carried out with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM6) indicate that the strengthening of the stratospheric westerlies explains the mesospheric temperature changes. The stronger westerlies cause stronger westward gravity wave drag in the mesosphere. Although the enhanced gravity wave drag is partly balanced by a weakening of planetary wave forcing, the net result is an acceleration of the mesospheric mean meridional circulation. The stronger mesospheric circulation, in turn, plays a dominant role in driving the changes in mesospheric temperatures. This study highlights the impact of large volcanic eruptions on middle atmospheric dynamics and provides insight into their long‐term effects in the mesosphere. On the other hand, we could not discern a clear mechanism for the observed changes in stratospheric circulation. In fact, an examination of the WACCM ensemble reveals that not every member reproduces the large changes observed by SABER. We conclude that there is a stochastic component to the stratospheric response to the HTHH eruption.

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