Volcanic Eruption Near Tonga Could Have Long-Lasting Effects on the Environment

by Victoria Santiago
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The volcanic eruption that has happened near Tonga could have devastating impacts on the surrounding environment. Scientists have been studying satellite images of the eruptions – there have been a few scattered over the course of four days. According to those scientists, these eruptions could damage coral reefs, erode coastlines, and impact fisheries. There could also be other serious impacts.

Firstly, acid rain will become a reoccurring issue for Tonga. Since the volcano first erupted, its been releasing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Both of those gases create acid rain when they’re mixed with water and air. Due to the tropical climate of the area, Tonga will most likely experience a lot of acid rain.

In turn, acid rain will damage the crops that are grown on the island. Taro, corn, bananas, and garden vegetables are all staples of the island, and they could all get damaged. Based on the satellite images of the volcanic eruption, part of the volcanic plume is spreading away from the island. This is good news for Tonga, of course, but bad news for anything coming into its path. The island of Fiji might also be affected. Fiji has notified residents of the potential rain, and they have been advised to stay indoors and cover all water supplies.

According to Reuters, tsunamis are also a threat for Tonga right now, and they are known for severely eroding shorelines.

The Volcanic Eruption Has Severely Impacted Fishing, Which Supports Tongan Life

Additionally, the ocean around the site of the volcanic eruption will most likely experience a lot of die-offs. Images show that the land is covered with ash, so that means the ocean has gotten a lot of ash, too. Ash clouds the water, and fish can no longer get food efficiently. Many fish will die. The fish that don’t die will leave the area to find somewhere safe. Any fish that are left in the water will not be safe to eat, due to the ash and volcanic leakage in the water.

Tonga’s economic area is comprised mostly of the ocean. In fact, the oceanic part is 1,000 times larger than the land part. Due to the vast expanse of the sea at their disposal, many Tongans rely on the ocean for both food and income.

The tourism industry will be heavily affected by the volcanic eruption. Coral reefs are a big attraction for Tonga, and tourism in the area brings in around $5 million per year. Even before the volcanic eruption, coral reefs were facing hardships. Coral bleaching, cyclones, and disease have all been impacting coral reefs around Tonga. The loss of the coral reefs could also contribute to the eroding coastline. A 2015 report saw that the island valued its storm buffers, like coral reefs, at around $11 million annually.

Outsider.com