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Stober_et_al_ACP_2024_Hunga_II.pdf (12.27 MB)

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

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posted on 2024-05-14, 10:11 authored by 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 LesterMark Lester, Kathrin Baumgarten, Johan Kero, Evgenia Belova, Nicholas Mitchell, Tracy Moffat-Griffin, Na Li

The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha′apai volcano erupted on 15 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 volcanogenic 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 ± 5.7 m s−1 and a westward-propagating gravity wave with an observed phase speed of 166.5 ± 6.4 m s−1. We identified these waves in HIAMCM and obtained very good agreement of the observed phase speeds of 239.5 ± 4.3 and 162.2 ± 6.1 m s−1 for the eastward 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, this 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 min of the nominal value of 15 January 2022 04:15 UTC, and we 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.


This research has been supported by the Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (grant no. 200021-200517/1), the National Science Foundation (grant nos. AGS-1832988, AGS-1828589), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 42174183), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (grant no. ST/W00089X/1), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant nos. 21H04516, 21H04518, 21H01144, and 20K20940), the Australian Antarctic Division (grant nos. 4445 and 4637), NASA Engineering and Safety Center (grant no. TI-17-01204), NASA Engineering and Safety Center (grant no. 80NSSC21M0073), the US NSF (grant no. AGS-1651464), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant no. JA 836/47-1), and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern (through ISSI International Team project 23-580 – Meteors and Phenomena at the Boundary between Earth's Atmosphere and Outer Space)

A Consolidated Grant Proposal for Solar and Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, 2022 - 2025

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College of Science & Engineering/Physics & Astronomy


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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics






4851 - 4873


Copernicus GmbH





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Professor Mark Lester

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Data Access Statement

HIAMCM wind fields can be requested from Sharon L. Vadas ( The meteor radar data can be requested from the instrument principal investigators for DAV (, TDF (, ROT (, SVA, and Nordic (consisting of TRO, SOD, ALT, and KIR). (,,,, McM (, ALO (, Poker Flat (, CMO (, and for CAR (,, The Mengcheng and Kunming radar data were provided through Wen Yi ( The retrieved 10 min winds can be requested from the University of Bern (

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