Tonga eruption blasted enough water to fill 58,000 Olympic pools into the Earth's atmosphere, NASA says

One of the most powerful volcanic eruptions on the planet blasted such a huge amount of water vapour high into the atmosphere that it's likely to temporarily warm the Earth's surface according to NASA

The eruption this month of an underwater volcano near Tonga was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, according to NASA.

When the undersea Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted on January 15, 40 miles north of Tonga's capital, it created a tsunami as well as a sonic boom that rippled around the world -- twice.

The eruption sent a tall plume of water vapour into the stratosphere, which is located between 8 and 33 miles above the Earth's surface. It was enough water to fill 58,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The detection was made by the Microwave Limb Sounder instrument on NASA's Aura satellite. The satellite measures water vapour, ozone and other atmospheric gases.

The scientists were shocked by the water vapour levels after the eruption. They estimate that the eruption sent 146 teragrams of water to the stratosphere (a teragram = 3 trillion grams).

That's nearly four times the amount of water vapor that reached the stratosphere after the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines.

That's nearly four times the amount of water vapor that reached the stratosphere after the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines.