Antarctica is dyed pink after the eruption of the volcano in Tonga: the science behind the phenomenon

Although Tonga and Antarctica are 7,000 kilometers apart and the eruption occurred six months ago, both events are related.


The tragic eruption of a volcano in Tonga has caused Antarctica to turn pink for up to six months after the event.

Scientists have been surprised after the dissemination of photographs of the pink panorama in Antarctica , a region that is 7,000 kilometers from the island of Tonga .

What is the relationship between the eruption in Tonga and the pink skies of Antarctica?

Scientists working in Antarctica have reported this recent phenomenon to New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmosphere (Niwa) after realizing the same thing was happening in the world’s southernmost region.

“Usually in midwinter, Antarctica is almost continuously dark, except for a slight ‘nautical twilight’ around noon, which means the horizon is barely visible in good conditions,” said Stuart Shaw, Antarctica’s scientific technician. New Zealand, to The Guardian . He took several of these photos as recently as this July.

“Believe it or not, I haven’t edited these colors either, they’re more or less how we saw them,” Shaw said. “Is incredible.”

The truth is that, according to data from the lidar satellite, a laser radar, there is a large amount of aerosols above the Antarctic stratosphere that were not there before January, the month in which the tragedy occurred in Oceania.

“Stratospheric aerosols can circulate around the globe for months after a volcanic eruption, scattering and deflecting light as the sun sets or rises below the horizon, creating a sky glow with shades of pink, blue, purple and violets,” said Nava Fedaeff, Niwa forecaster.

Volcanic twilights are known as “afterglows,” and the color and intensity depend on the amount of haze and cloudiness along the path of light reaching the stratosphere, he said.

“We share the same skies”

According to Jordy Hendrikx, both Antarctica and Tonga “share the same skies”.

“A lot of the science we support is aimed at understanding those dynamics in the atmosphere, oceans and ecosystems, and helping to better understand the connectivity between Antarctica , New Zealand and the rest of the world,” he noted.