SINGAPORE — Tuesday’s weather and climate expert said that he has not seen any significant impacts on the global environment as a result of the recent volcano eruption in Tonga.
According to NASA data, the eruption in Tonga was quite large, with dust and gases erupting from the volcano at a distance of up to 30 kilometers, according to Koh Tieh Yong (associate professor at the School of Science and Technology, Singapore University of Social Sciences).
In an interview with Xinhua, he stated that when you inject a substance to 30 km high, it has passed beyond the layer in the troposphere. There you have all the weathers going into the next layer of atmosphere known as stratosphere.
There are two possible effects when gases enter the stratosphere: sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide.
The sulfur dioxide gases from the eruption would have been converted to sulfur crystals once they reached the stratosphere. Because sulfur crystals scatter sunlight, less sunlight reaches the earth’s surfaces, which theoretically could cool it.
NASA data suggests that up to now the amount of sulfur dioxide ejected from the earth is around 400 million kilograms. This is approximately 50 times less than the famous volcanic eruptions in the Philippines by Pinatubo in 1991.
He stated that the Pinatubo eruption caused a cooling of 0.6 degrees Celsius on the earth’s surface. The Tonga one with 50 times less sulfur dioxide would not have a significant impact on the global surface.
Second, people might be concerned about the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
Because the volcano ejects negligible amounts of carbon dioxide, it emits a smaller amount than that emitted in the transport and industries.
He said, “So one cannot be certain that not much worldwide impact will be observed.” However, he said that local impacts still exist.
The dust from the volcano will be carried by the winds around the globe, especially in the region around Tonga. The dust would then cover buildings and plants.
This would have an effect on the local environment but it would only last for one or two weeks before it would be over, he stated.
He stated that while there are no long-term environmental impacts, the volcano would have other effects beyond the atmospheric.
It is possible for an eruption to be followed by smaller eruptions. This all depends on how much gases and dust are ejected from the volcano, he stated.
Koh stated that the event is still new and it was hard to predict what would happen in coming days.