EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The evolution and dynamics of the sulfate aerosol plume in the stratosphere after the exceptional Tonga eruption of 15 January 2022

Clair Duchamp1, Bernard Legras1, Pasquale Sellitto2, Aurélien Podglajen1, Elisa Carboni3, Richard Siddans3, Jens-Uwe Grooss4, Felix Ploeger4, and Sergey Khaykin5
Clair Duchamp et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, CNRS/ENS/Sorbonne Université, IPSL, Paris, France (
  • 2Laboratoire Inter-universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Univ. Paris Est Créteil / CNRS, Créteil, France (
  • 3UK Research and Innovation, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, UK
  • 4Institute for Energy and Climate Research: Stratosphere (IEK–7), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
  • 5Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS-IPSL), UMR CNRS 8190, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Sorbonne Univ./UVSQ, Guyancourt, France

We use a combination of seven space-borne instruments to study the unprecedented stratospheric plume after the Tonga eruption of 15 January 2022.

The aerosol plume was initially formed of two clouds at 30 and 28 km mostly composed of submicron-sized sulfate particles, without ashes washed-out within the first day following the eruption. The large amount of injected water vapour led to a fast conversion of SO2 to sulfate aerosols and induced a descent of the plume to 24-26 km over the first 3 weeks by radiative cooling. Whereas SO2 has returned to background levels by the end of January, volcanic sulfates and water still persisted after 6 months, mainly confined between 35°S and 20°N until June due to the zonal symmetry of the summer stratospheric circulation at 22-26 km. Sulfate particles, undergoing hygroscopic growth and coagulation, sediment and gradually separate from the moisture anomaly entrained in the ascending branch Brewer-Dobson circulation. Sulfate aerosol optical depths derived from the IASI infrared sounder show that during the first two months the aerosol plume was not simply diluted and dispersed passively but rather organized in concentrated patches. Space-borne lidar winds suggest that those structures, generated by shear-induced instabilities, were associated with vorticity anomalies that may have enhanced the duration and impact of the plume.

Reference: ACP Highlight, DOI: 10.5194/acp-22-14957-2022

How to cite: Duchamp, C., Legras, B., Sellitto, P., Podglajen, A., Carboni, E., Siddans, R., Grooss, J.-U., Ploeger, F., and Khaykin, S.: The evolution and dynamics of the sulfate aerosol plume in the stratosphere after the exceptional Tonga eruption of 15 January 2022, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7369,, 2023.