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Antarctica bathed in dazzling colours in afterglow of Tonga eruption

18.07.2022 09:43 AM
Antarctica bathed in dazzling colours in afterglow of Tonga eruption
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Antarctica bathed in dazzling colours in afterglow of Tonga eruption

The Antarctic sky has recently turned a stunning pink, likely due to aerosols being released into the atmosphere; Due to the eruption of an underwater volcano since the beginning of the year.

Stuart Shaw, a science technician who works at Scott Base Antarctica in New Zealand for the winter, uploaded a photo to Instagram on July 7, 2022, according to a report published by Business Insider Friday, July 15, 2022.

Strange colors in the Antarctic sky

"Believe it or not, I haven't modified these colors either, they are very similar to what we saw. It's unbelievable," Shaw told the Guardian.

The strange color is made up of particles in the atmosphere that can travel long distances and for long periods after a volcano erupts.

A press release from the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research explained the phenomenon. "Stratospheric aerosols can orbit the globe for months after a volcanic eruption, scattering and bending light as the sun sinks or rises below the horizon, creating a sky glow of pink, blue, purple and violet," the statement read.

The institute tracked the aerosols over Scott Station on July 7, 2022, and found that they were abundant in the sky.


Underwater volcano eruption

The volcano erupted in the underwater area of Honga Tonga on January 15, 2022, about 20 miles from Earth. The eruption released the highest ash plume ever recorded by satellites.

The ash plume erupted with a force of about 10 megatons. It created a massive ash cloud and tsunami that devastated the nearby villages of Tonga. At least three people were killed.

Aerosols from volcanic eruptions can remain in the sky for about two years, during which time they spread and cover the globe, according to NASA. The sunlight is reflected back into space, creating strange colours.

The strange color of the sky visible in twilights is known as "afterglow" and is very common after a volcanic eruption, according to experts in New Zealand.

In a related context, a press release said the color and intensity depend on "the amount of fog and clouds along the path of light reaching the stratosphere."

The Guardian also previously reported that people reported seeing purple and pink skies in New Zealand and Australia during June 2022.

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