The Beirut explosion’s atmospheric wave shook the ionosphere
March 21, 2021
This August 5, 2020 file photo, is the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. 211 killed , 6500 Injured after several hundred tons of ammonium nitrate exploded . 2750 tons were stored there for nearly 7 years, reportedly for use by the Syrian regime in its barrel bombs. The shipment was reportedly confiscated by Badri Daher a close associate of President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil , both are allied with the Syrian regime . The shipment arrived at a time when Syria was surrendering its chemical weapons to a UN backed organization for destruction . Aoun officially knew about the Ammonium Nitrate 2 weeks before the explosion but did nothing about it . He , along with his Hezbollah allies refused an international investigation but promised a local investigation that will bring the culprits to justice in less than a week but 8 months later not one politician has been charged (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, Beirut, Lebanon(Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP)
The explosion that took place on August 4, 2020, in Lebanon’s port city of Beirut is considered to be one of the most powerful non-nuclear, man-made blasts in human history. The crater left in its wake altered the port, the blast killing at least 210 people and injuring 6,500. More than 300,000 were temporarily homeless.
Now, a new study by Hokkaido University scientists in Japan has given us new findings that can be used to judge just how powerful the explosion generated by more than 2,750 tons worth of ammonium nitrate was.
According to the findings published in the journal Scientific Reports, the atmospheric wave that generated from the explosion led to electron disturbances high in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
The blast ‘shook’ the ionosphere
Earth’s ionosphere — the part of Earth’s upper atmosphere, from about 30 miles (48 km) to 600 miles (965 km) — by looking at discrepancies in delays encountered by microwave signals sent by GPS satellites to the ground stations. The press release explains that the changes in electron content affect the microwave signals as they pass through the ionosphere.
“We found that the blast generated a wave that traveled in the ionosphere in a southwards direction at a velocity of around 0.8 kilometers (0.5 miles) per second,” said Kosuke Heki, Hokkaido University Earth and Planetary scientist. When sound waves travel through the ionosphere, they do so at a similar speed.
As the second part of the study, the scientists compared the size of the ionospheric wave generated by the Beirut blast to other waves following natural and anthropogenic events.
It was seen that the Beirut blast‘s wave was slightly larger than a wave generated by the 2004 eruption of the Asama Volcano in Japan. Beirut blast’s southward-bound, high-velocity atmospheric wave rivaled ones generated by volcanic eruptions.