Hunga-Tonga Driven Temperature Spike?

The UAH has spiked this month, to +0.64C above baseline, and nobody–and I’m mean nobody–can definitively explain why.

First and foremost, this rise CANNOT be tied to the dogma of the day: AGW. There was no anomalous-increase in atmospheric CO2 in July, or in any prior month, to justify such an uptick. July’s spike is a naturally-driven event — this is widely agreed upon.

And although the explanations behind this temperature increase are lacking, and the forcings involved poorly understood –due in no small part to today’s climate science coffers funding AGW-affirming theories only– a change in ocean currents, atmospheric winds, and the infamous Hunga Tonga eruption of Jan 15, 2022 appear top of the list.

Hunga Tonga, being a submarine volcano, fired excessive amounts of water into the atmosphere. Some postulate that this vapor, after an initial cooling lag, is now exerting a temporary warming effect — water vapor being Earth’s most abundant GHG.

Then there are others that say the warming is not due to the water vapor itself, rather the disruptions it caused to upper atmosphere winds, with these effects being both oscillatory and temporary.

‘Temporary’ is the key here: climatic events always are.

July’s results “suggest something peculiar is going on,” writes Dr. Roy Spencer, who collates the lower tropospheric satellite data at the University of Huntsville Alabama. “It’s too early for the developing El Nino in the Pacific to have much effect on the tropospheric temperature record. The Hunga Tonga sub-surface ocean volcanic eruption and its “unprecedented” production of extra stratospheric water vapor could be to blame,” Dr. Spencer contends, adding that come back with a formal theory once he’s had time to properly evaluate the data.

Hunda Tonga does look to have caused cooling, at least initially, due to the release of particulates into the atmosphere–muted though they were compared to something like a Mt Pinatubo. Dr. Peter Kolb, PhD Forest Ecologist Adjunct Professor, links the effects of the Hunga eruption, “the highest in the atmosphere of any volcano in history,” to North America’s long cold winter just gone.

“[The eruption] blew something like a trillion tons of water into the upper atmosphere … increasing the water vapor in the Stratosphere by 10%. We talk about greenhouse gases increasing by one or two one-hundredths of a percent causing global climate change, and here we had a volcano that increased the water content of the stratosphere by 10%.”

Dr Kolb continues to be mystified by the lack of coverage the Hunga Tonga volcano and its impacts have garnered from both the global scientific community and mainstream media alike.

“So when the Tonga volcano blew and through all this water into the atmosphere, I go ‘Holy smokes, you know, all the literature everything I’ve read about atmospheric modeling and atmospheric gases. Why isn’t everybody jumping up and down going, oh my god, you know, this is huge’?” he asked. “There’s this massive vapor cloud, especially over the southern hemisphere that has reflected an enormous amount of solar energy right back out to space and it hasn’t come back to the earth.”

Cooling was indeed the initial and expected consequence of such an ejection of particulates. However, with the vast amount of water vapor involved, “58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools”-worth, according to a NASA study, was the eventual effect always destined to be warming? I honestly don’t know. But NASA seems to think it was:

Measurements from the Microwave Limb Sounder on NASA’s Aura satellite indicate the excess water vapor is equivalent to around 10% of the amount of water vapor typically residing in the stratosphere, “where this ‘excess stratospheric H2O will persist for years, could affect stratospheric chemistry and dynamics, and may lead to surface warming.'”

Previous volcanic eruptions have all led to a cooling effect on Earth as ejected matter reflects the Sun’s rays back into space. However, in the case of the Tonga blast, the caldera was situated nearly 500 feet below the surface of the South Pacific Ocean. This resulted in a smaller particulate ash cloud, but a vastly enhanced vaporizing of the surrounding water.

NASA’s estimate, conducted in late 2022, has since recently been revised upward from a 10% increase in stratospheric water vapor to a 30% increase by the European Space Agency. Higher atmospheric concentrations of water vapor leads to higher surface temperatures, with VP being a GHG far more powerful than CO2, as explained by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

“Volcanic eruptions rarely inject much water into the stratosphere. In the 18 years that NASA has been taking measurements, only two other eruptions –the 2008 Kasatochi event in Alaska and the 2015 Calbuco eruption in Chile– sent appreciable amounts of water vapor to such high altitudes. But those were mere blips compared to the Tonga event, and the water vapor from both previous eruptions dissipated quickly. The excess water vapor injected by the Tonga volcano, on the other hand, could remain in the stratosphere for several years.

“This extra water vapor could influence atmospheric chemistry, boosting certain chemical reactions that could temporarily worsen depletion of the ozone layer. It could also influence surface temperatures. Massive volcanic eruptions like Krakatoa and Mount Pinatubo typically cool Earth’s surface by ejecting gases, dust, and ash that reflect sunlight back into space. In contrast, the Tonga volcano didn’t inject large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere, and the huge amounts of water vapor from the eruption may have a small, temporary warming effect, since water vapor traps heat. The effect would dissipate when the extra water vapor cycles out of the stratosphere.”

–So here we have two major agencies (NASA and ESA) official forecasting a temporary and natural bout of warming, forecasts that went completely untouched by the media and IPCC alike. “Why isn’t everybody jumping up and down going oh my god, you know, this is huge’?” asked Dr. Peter Kolb of the Hunga eruption. Well, maybe we have our answer. Maybe it also explains this season’s low sea ice extent around Antarctica, too.

My contention (honestly, my ‘guess’) is that this temporary spike in warming is tied, in some way, to the Hunga Tonga eruption. The pieces appear to fit. Even the delay between the initial blast and the warming –around 16+ months– fits with prior eruptions, only the impact from Hunga has been exaggerated, as you would expect, given the larger ejections of water vapor.

Time will of course tell, but this is almost certainly a climatic ‘blip’; Mother Nature throwing us a few final curve balls, a final ‘short squeeze’ before the inevitable plunge south. “[Nothing] will avert the onset of the next deep temperature drop, the 19th in the last 7500 years, which without fail follows after natural warming” — Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov.

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