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

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 MarinoScott Palo, Denise Thorsen, Masaki Tsutsumi, Njål Gulbrandsen, Satonori Nozawa, Mark Lester, Kathrin Baumgarten, Johan Kero, Evgenia Belova, Nicholas Mitchell, Tracy Moffat-Griffin, Na Li

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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 2405.7gmgs-1 and a westward-propagating gravity wave with an observed phase speed of 166.56.4gmgs-1. We identified these waves in HIAMCM and obtained very good agreement of the observed phase speeds of 239.54.3 and 162.26.1gmgs-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 6gmin of the nominal value of 15 January 2022 04:15gUTC, and we localized the volcanic eruption to be within 78gkm relative to the World Geodetic System 84 coordinates of the volcano, confirming our estimates to be realistic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4851-4873
Number of pages23
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2024

Data Availability 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 (

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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