Volcanic eruption thousands of miles away might be making sunrises and sunsets extra colorful, based on researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Based on a news release from the university last week, a team observed that over the summer, sunrises and sunsets had more of a purple coloration to them. They sent up a high-altitude balloon to collect samples of particles within the Earth’s stratosphere.
The release also stated that these particles, or aerosols, scatter sunlight as it passes via the air, which along with the absorption of sunshine by the ozone layer, gives sunrises and sunsets that purple tint.
On June 22, the Russian volcano known as Raikoke erupted, sending ash and volcanic gases from its 700-meter-wide crater up into the atmosphere. The eruption was so massive it could be seen by astronauts on the International Space Station, NASA said in a statement.
In a typical, non-volcanic sunset, light from the sun has to travel via a notable quantity of Earth’s atmosphere, and blue light spread aerosols it meets. This implies much less blue light reaches our eyes from directions close to the sun, inflicting the skies to seem orange and red.
When volcanic aerosols are situated in the stratosphere, blue light scattered from aerosols closer to the Earth’s surface can scatter once more, this time towards our eyes and cameras. This blue light mixes with the red light already coming from the sun, giving the sky a purple shade.
Lars Kalnajs, an analysis associate within the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the school, led the project and stated this eruption isn’t any cause for concern, however, warns that we have to prepare for a much bigger one.
That’s one motive why his team is analyzing the Raikoke eruption. Preliminary information collected thus far reveals that some aerosol layers within the stratosphere were 20 times thicker than regular in the wake of the eruption, based on the news release.