Global propagation of ionospheric disturbances associated with the 2022 Tonga volcanic eruption

David R. Themens*, Chris Watson, Nedjeljka Žagar, Sergiy Vasylkevych, Sean Elvidge, Anthony McCaffrey, Paul Prikryl, Ben Reid, Alan Wood, P. T. Jayachandran

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this study, we use measurements from over 4,735 globally distributed Global Navigation Satellite System receivers to track the progression of traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) associated with the 15 January 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcanic eruption. We identify two distinct Large Scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (LSTIDs) and several subsequent Medium Scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs) that propagate radially outward from the eruption site. Within 3,000 km of epicenter, LSTIDs of >1,600 km wavelengths are initially observed propagating at speeds of ∼950 and ∼555 ms −1, before substantial slowing to ∼600 and ∼390 ms −1, respectively. MSTIDs with speeds of 200–400 ms −1 are observed for 6 hrs following eruption, the first of which comprises the dominant global ionospheric response and coincides with the atmospheric surface pressure disturbance associated with the eruption. These are the first results demonstrating the global impact of the Tonga eruption on the ionospheric state.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL098158
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Early online date25 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Space Weather Services for the provision of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data. We acknowledge the New Zealand GeoNet project and its sponsors EQC, GNS Science and LINZ, for providing data/images used in this study. CDDIS is one of the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), part of the NASA Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) project. Datasets and related data products and services are provided by CDDIS, managed by the NASA ESDIS project. This material is based on services provided by the GAGE Facility, operated by UNAVCO, Inc., with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-1724794. A. McCaffrey and B. Reid are supported under Canadian Space Agency Grant 21SUSTCHAI. Sean Elvidge is supported by the UK Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modeling and Risk (SWIMMR) Programme, National Environmental Research Council (NERC) grants NE/V002643/1 and NE/V002708/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Authors.


  • GNSS
  • ionosphere
  • traveling ionospheric disturbances
  • volcanic eruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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