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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

The Generation and Propagation of Atmospheric Internal Waves Caused by Volcanic Eruptions

Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, DC 20005, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vanda Grubišić
Atmosphere 2017, 8(3), 60;
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2017 / Accepted: 14 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Gravity Waves)
Observations from the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean have shown that volcanic eruptions (particularly explosive ones) can generate internal waves in the atmosphere that can be observed by microbarographs at ground level. It is possible that observations of such waves may give early information about volcanic eruptions when other methods are unavailable (because of bad weather, nocturnal eruptions, and poor visibility or remoteness), if it is possible to interpret them. This paper describes a dynamical model of the forcing of internal waves in which the eruption is modelled as a turbulent plume, forced by a source of buoyancy at ground level that specifies the total height and relevant properties of the eruption. Specifically, the rising plume entrains environmental air from ground level to 70% of its maximum height zM, and above 0.7zM the rising fluid spreads radially. During the eruption, this flow forces horizontal motion in the surrounding fluid that generates internal waves, which may be computed by assuming that this is due to a linear dynamical process. Properties of the resulting waves are described for a variety of parameters that include the strength and height of the eruption, the effect of the tropopause, generation in the stratosphere for large eruptions, and the differing effects of the duration of the eruption. Implications for characterising eruptions from observations of these properties are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: volcanic eruptions; internal gravity waves; turbulent plumes volcanic eruptions; internal gravity waves; turbulent plumes
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Baines, P.G.; Sacks, S. The Generation and Propagation of Atmospheric Internal Waves Caused by Volcanic Eruptions. Atmosphere 2017, 8, 60.

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