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Why Australia is getting amazing sunsets and how they will continue for another year

Why Australia is getting fantastic sunsets of vibrant reds and oranges seen all over Instagram – and how they will continue for another YEAR

  • Australia’s recent spectacular sunsets have a scientific explanation for them
  • Scientists say the colorful sunrises and sunsets could last up to a year
  • Ash, sulfates and water vapor in the stratosphere provide vibrant colors

Australians wondering why there have been such spectacular sunsets across the country in recent months were shocked to discover the sad reason for them.

Scientists have revealed that the stunning sunsets and sunrises are the result of the devastating Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcanic eruption in January.

It was the largest explosion in more than three decades, killing at least six people in Tonga with 19 injured, and causing an estimated $130 million in damage.

As Tonga continues to recover from the natural disaster, Australia’s more colorful sunrises and sunsets could be another year away, thanks to ash, sulfates and water vapor in the stratosphere.

Australians have witnessed spectacular sunrises and sunsets in recent months, like this one over Bondi Beach in Sydney

Australians have witnessed spectacular sunrises and sunsets in recent months, like this one over Bondi Beach in Sydney

After the volcano’s eruption on Jan. 15, NASA analysis showed it burst through the first two layers of the atmosphere — the troposphere and stratosphere — and into the third layer, the mesosphere.

At its peak it reached 58 km above the Earth and its effects are still visible in Australia.

Atmospheric chemist Robyn Schofield of the University of Melbourne said the eruption sent ash, sulfates and water vapor into the stratosphere, containing about three times more aerosols than normal.

Ms Schofield said all those elements almost certainly contributed to what Australians see in the sky late at night and very early in the morning.

“Particles in the atmosphere generally provide a surface to scatter and it is the scattering of light that causes our beautiful sunsets and sunrises,” she told the newspaper. ABC

“So what happens is that the troposphere is completely in shadow, and about 20 to 25 minutes after sunset, most of the light from the stratosphere scatters toward our eyes.”

Ms Schofield said Australians were still seeing the effects in the night and morning skies as the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption was the largest since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

Photographer Ilona Diessner said there have been vibrant oranges in the sunrises and sunsets where she lives in Western Australia lately.

The sun sets over Brisbane as seen from the top of Mount Coot-Tha on June 6, 2022

The sun sets over Brisbane as seen from the top of Mount Coot-Tha on June 6, 2022

Sydney's Opera House, harbor and city skyline can be seen at sunset on March 14, 2022

Sydney’s Opera House, harbor and city skyline can be seen at sunset on March 14, 2022

The sky was much more pink and purple last year in Albany, on WA’s south coast.

“I’ve noticed that the sunrises are just as colorful as the sunsets, which I didn’t see much of last year,” she said.

The time it takes for the air to circulate, south to Antarctica, is also a factor in creating the intense colors Australians look for in the sky, Ms Schofield said.

It takes about 12 days for an injection of material to go around the world, and it should also move slowly towards the poles and come out.

“And that reversal circulation, which will remove material from the stratosphere, will take three to five years,” she said.

View of Melbourne's skyline at sunset on Friday, June 17, 2022. Australia's spectacular sunsets in recent months have been linked to the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcanic eruption in January

View of Melbourne’s skyline at sunset on Friday, June 17, 2022. Australia’s spectacular sunsets in recent months have been linked to the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcanic eruption in January

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