The volcanic eruption that destroyed a small island in Polynesia on Saturday (Jan. 15) injected a huge amount of ash into a record altitude but won't cause any disruption to Earth's climate, experts said.
Satellites detected the ash cloud, which has already spread over Australia, at over 24 miles (39 kilometers) above Earth's surface, Oxford University research fellow Simon Proud said on Twitter on Monday (Jan. 17). This was the first time volcanic ash has been detected so high in Earth's atmosphere, he added.
"Based on analysis of data from global weather satellites, our preliminary data for the Tonga volcanic cloud suggests that it reached an altitude of 39km [24 miles]," Proud said. "We'll refine the accuracy of that in the coming days, but if correct, that's the highest cloud we've ever seen."